Ask any parent what they want for their child and most parents will have similar wishes: happiness, health, security and to flourish.
While many of us strive to provide these things for our little people, sometimes it is hard. Too often we feel a sense of failure, exhaustion and like we aren’t getting anywhere. The good news is, that if you feel this you aren’t alone and more than that there is compelling scientific evidence that if we want to boost our child’s emotional and social well-being, we must first spend time on ourselves.
Research has discovered that the more satisfied a mother is with her life, the better her child’s language and motor skills are when they are 2-3 years old. When the child is 5-6 this also means better socio-emotional skills, which includes managing emotion, developing relationships with others and having self-control.
Self-control is an important skill for all of us to master if we want to experience high levels of well-being. Children’s self-control skills have been explored in an experiment conducted by Psychologist Walter Mischel, known as the ‘marshmallow test’.
Put simply, a child was left in a room and told if they waited, they could have two marshmallows But if they couldn’t wait, they would only get one. Mischel checked back in with the same children when they were adolescents and found that those who were able to wait for the two marshmallows as pre-schoolers were more likely to score higher on their high school exams and their parents were more likely to rate them as being able to handle stress, plan, reason and show self-control.
When children show self-control, they are more able to focus without becoming distracted and can better manage frustrating situations. The amazing part of the study was, when these same participants were tracked down 40 years later they exhibited the same patterns of self-control.
Satisfaction with life
Self-regulation skills developed as a young child carry on throughout later life and as a parent you play an important role in your child’s development of these skills. Particularly by investing in being satisfied with your life. Despite popular belief, being satisfied with your life is more important to your child’s development than:
Whether or not you have a job
The amount of time your child spends in daycare
What to do with this information?
Take a moment to invest in you. When you feel more satisfied with your life you are more likely to be a better parent, make more positive statements as well as engage and talk to your children more. This influences the attachment relationship you have with your child and where a child has a strong attachment with their parents and feels unconditionally loved and supported they will develop better socially and emotionally.
So next time you feel like you shouldn’t head out with a friend, hit the gym or take that long bath you need. Think about what you need to do to feel more satisfied and in control of your life. After all, you can’t fill another glass if your glass is only half empty.
About Danielle Buckley
Danielle Buckley is a psychologist with 15 years’ experience, and has a Postgraduate and a Master’s Degree in Psychology. Danielle is an international speaker and researcher, specialising in Positive Psychology. Danielle also runs tailored workshops and retreats for mothers and girls and has an online course ‘Be Your Best Self’ that helps participants discover how to thrive and improve their wellbeing. www.daniellebuckley.com.au