Parenting is always a tough job, ensuring the good health of kids, providing them a healthy diet, ensuring that they get their foundation correct, and also taking them to various extra classes post-school. This list of tasks is just unending. But how many of you are taking good care of your Child’s Mental Health also along with all the things mentioned above? How many of you are really aware of the importance of family support in a child’s mental health? Honestly, I wasn’t much aware of all these things till the time the pandemic hit us. With the complete lockdown everywhere, when an active social kid gets restricted to home completely, then there would be a lot of stress on him. This blog aims to discuss my learnings during that time.
My child is a very happy and playful child. He is very keenly interested in learning different sports forms. So, his life during the weekdays is completely busy attending gymnastics, shuttle badminton, and cricket coaching classes after school. And, weekends are meant for family time. We used to go for long drives or play board games at home and watch some family movies. He loves going to all these classes and in fact asking us to enquire about archery or soccer academies near us. He is a person, who wants to try and experience all the sports before he decides what is his passion. But this sudden lockdown has cut all his outings. Initially, he thought it was fun to be in the house, with no pre-planned schedule.
He spent time reading books, playing with us, and watching movies. But after few weeks, we had to start working from home. That’s when the reality struck him that he will not be able to meet his friends or a play game outside. Then started the cranky behavior and temper tantrums. Slowly, we could see the withdrawal symptoms and he started becoming more recluse. That’s the time when my dear friend Priyanka from Sanity Daily, has come to my rescue with her “Letters of Compassion“. And she bought back some zing into my child’s life. He started writing stories, based on her inspiration.
We had to double up as his counselors, playmates apart from being parents. That’s when I started studying in-depth about child psychology. Especially the effects of lockdown on the children’s mental health. Which lead me to the Kid’s Life Coaching course, which I did with MEQ, and learned a lot during that time. So, here comes my learnings about the importance of Family Support in a Child’s Mental Health.
How to identify if the Child has any Mental Health Issues?
Every child is different and unique. A small incident that can trigger problems in one child might not even be noticed by another child. So as a parent we need to be vigilant about our child’s behavior all the time. Research has proven time and again, that any disturbances in Mental health would result in the physical changes of that person. Like how they behave, walk or talk with friends and family. Here are few tips gathered in my research.
- Seeming to be quieter than usual
- Wants to be alone most of the time
- Overreacting or displaying the sudden bursts of emotions in the form of anger display, crying, etc
- Not showing interest in their favorite foods, games, and the activities which they normally enjoy.
- Uses negative talk often
- Looks very tired or unhappy all the time.
- Looks fearful or guilty or worried all the time for no apparent reason
- Starts thinking negatively all the time
- Loses interest in all activities
- Talks badly about themselves all the time
- Changes in Eating and Sleeping patterns
- The regular confident posture in walking and talking has gone and looks slouched
- Adopts new habits to express their pent up negative energies
- Elder kids and youth might start getting addicted to substance usage as well.
How to Support your Child in the above case?
Always parents are the best judge of their child’s behavior. If you observe any of the above-mentioned symptoms, our first contact should be our own child pediatrician. Since our pediatrician knows the child better, they can conduct few tests or have a talk with our child and then suggest us the next appropriate action. In case you know any child psychologist then you can contact them too. These days, most of the schools have child counselors or coaches. So we can approach them also to get a holistic picture of our kid.
Tips to maintain a good mental health of our child.
The mental health of any person or a child depends mainly on his immediate environment at home and school. So, it’s all the more important for the parents to take care of their child’s mental health as well as physical health. The following are a few tips about how to provide family support for a child’s mental health.
Relationship with our Children
Try to establish a good relationship with the child. We should be acting as their anchor points in life. For that to happen, we need to take time out from our busy schedules and spend time with them on a regular basis. Then only, the children would be able to come and discuss with us their problems.
Build the trust:
It’s very important for the child to know that we as parents are not going to judge him, but are there to hear him out and help him in managing his feelings and emotions. Once that trust is established in the child, then it would be easier for him in the future life to deal with any crisis, as he knows that there would one or another person to hear him out. We need to always keep that channel of communication open with our kids.
Treat the children as individuals and they would also have feelings. We need to respect their feelings and should give them space and time to express their feelings. Also, as parents, we need to teach them how to manage their emotions and guide them towards emotional intelligence.
Stress has become a part of everyone’s life these days. Even the children are not spared by this stress. So teaching them the ways to manage their stress will help them in a long way. That’s the reason why we should teach our children about mindfulness and emotional intelligence at the tender age itself.
Self Esteem is an important quality that every individual should possess about themselves. Self Esteem is nothing but how we see and feel about ourselves. So when we feel positive about ourselves, then there are very few chances that we would undergo any mental disturbances. So as parents, it’s our utmost importance to build self-esteem in our children and also teach them the ways to build/re-build it as and when it’s required.
Last but not least, I always believe in this adage that a “Family which eats and prays together stays healthy and happy together“. But with children, we need to also add playing, as playing is a necessary part of their development. So in order to maintain good mental health for our kids, we need to eat, play and pray with them at least a couple of times a week, if not daily.