I remember my childhood as one where I never had to rely on technology to pass time. We had plenty of time and very less to play with; but I don’t remember ever being moody, frustrated or lonely as there was plenty to explore and engage. Our homes today are packed with automatic devices and electronic entertainment that we couldn’t even dream of. Surely our children should be more engaged and happy?
Sadly the answer is no.
The way we think or feel about ourselves and what is going on around us, and how we cope with the stresses of life – affects our senses as well as our physical health. This defines mental health. Good mental health in childhood provides a foundation for positive mental health and well-being, now and into the future. This does not mean a child will never worry or feel distressed because ups and downs they encounter in day-to-day life are a part of them growing up. Feeling worried; sad, frustrated or angry are all normal emotions and a child should experience them but a mentally healthy child is one who is able to develop age appropriate skills to cope with these feelings.
Just as a small “crack” in a wall can become bigger and more difficult to fix over time, the effective management of mental health concerns in young children requires early identification. The constant pressure and activities to be the best in everything is a side effect of development and cultural change in today’s society. We, as parents are unable to resist providing too much to our child and often decide what we need them to do without asking them what they really love to do. Consequently, the kids have to handle a lot of pressure at the ages where they should just be able to enjoy their childhood. Parents are thereby, unknowingly, creating an environment in which mental health issues flourish. We live in a society that identifies only two types of people – winners and losers. I am not wrong if I say that children today are significantly more under pressure that we ever were. As parents in today’s culture, we find ourselves trying to centre our daily lives on our kids. Yet as we focus our attention on their physical health, schools and play dates, we run the risk of becoming dangerously distracted from what’s most important: how our children feel.
The question that comes here now is how to raise a mentally healthy child? It is simple.
- Do not go overboard. Keep it simple.
- Filter unnecessary stimulants from their lives
- Give them freedom to explore
We tend to overlook our children’s emotions in general as we focus more attention to how they are behaving than how they are feeling. So start with being open and nonjudgmental and allow your child the freedom to communicate. Children are naturally inquisitive about everything. This is healthy and should be encouraged, not suppressed. Accept and respect your child’s boundaries and be sensitive to it. Remember, a child learns a lot from your actions than reaction. How a child is feeling should always outweigh how we are viewed as their parents.
Children are sent to us at a time in our lives when we need a gentle reminder of how innocent and beautiful is humanity. They urge us to slow down and to be open and humble, showing us there is purpose in being young, wild and free and that we could all benefit from a little less control. So, go ahead! And move on the track to offer good mental health to your children!