“Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”
— Nelson Mandela
Although spoken in a different context. Nelson Mandela’s words potentially hold good even in today’s scenario. We have come a long way as a society but our problems have also evolved since. Owing to several lifestyle changes and transforming thought processes, it is essential to practice family wellness, not just by ensuring fulfillment of basic needs and securing loved ones with a robust family health insurance, but by going a couple of extra steps beyond.
While we as a society have now begun having open discussions on mental health for adults, we still haven’t addressed the same in children as effectively.
Studies show that only 21% of children with mental health issues actually get attention and the appropriate treatment, which means a vast majority of children with mental health problems do not get the help they need.
It is very important for parents to build a safe environment for their children.
Here are a few ways you can foster good mental health in them-
Developing good self-esteem during a child’s impressionable years can be key in ensuring mental well being. Although easier said than done, one must not only boost their child’s wellbeing but also encourage them to build it in their own way.
Here are some ways that can help-
- Realistic and genuine praise:
- Instead of directing your praise in a manner that pits them against their peers and sets high, unrealistic expectations, you could praise them for things they control. For eg. the effort they put in a certain activity, or how a certain style makes them look smart, etc.
- A large part of self-esteem stems from the ability to be independent. Teaching children to do things by themselves not only makes them feel good but also will make them more responsible and trustworthy individuals when they grow up. Even if it’s a small task like teaching them to make their own sandwich, or how to log in to their online classes by themselves, it will play a large role in the future and make them competent beings.
Teaching Them To Communicate Their Feelings
One of the most important things to teach children is the ability to recognize their feelings, address them, and express them in words. Helping them achieve this is a mammoth task but using examples and analogies for situations is a great way to begin. We must help children understand that feelings are like important road signs, if we listen to them and follow them, they can lead us to the right place
One of the most important things to be exposed to at a younger age is to learn about emotions and relationships. Even though we may think that emotions are common knowledge, there are actual skills related to handling emotions that need nurturing. Since every individual is unique, it becomes harder to figure oneself out. Channeling creativity is one of the greatest ways to help both children and adults alike, to understand, enjoy and express themselves.
The medium of creativity a child reaches out to may be different based on each child’s interests and personality. Art, writing, music, photography, sports, theatre, craft, horticulture- the list for exploring one’s interest is indefinite.
Normalizing The Cycle Of Struggle And Strength
The struggle is an inevitable part of life. The sooner we communicate this to our children and make them understand this, the better equipped they will be to take on life. Teaching them that there is no shame in getting stuck or failing at a task will not only help them work harder but also naturally help them grow their self-esteem.
With children, we must always be on the lookout for behavioural changes. These are the most telling signs of something that could potentially be bothering them. Make sure to create a safe space for discussion and openness so that they always feel comfortable reaching out to you. It is never too early or late to seek professional help if the need arises.