No one can deny the importance of family in one’s life. And we should be able to offload any of our problems or tensions with our parents or siblings. But the surge in recent teen suicides and related incidents shows that this essential family thread is loosening for one or multiple reasons. These incidents prove that the family’s crucial emotional bonding weakened. Hence, it’s all the more important to focus on the emotional health and bonding of the family as the first priority in this New Year.
Talking about emotional health or mental health is still considered taboo in most families. Though the pandemic has changed this view, people still hesitate to take action by consulting a therapist or a life coach in this manner. But we do remember the old saying, “a stitch in time saves nine,” isn’t it? The same holds even in the space of mental health as well. The problems can be handled more efficiently when addressed in the bud. So I will explain a little bit about the warning triggers that, as a parent, we need to be aware of below.
Red Signals that we should be aware of about Emotional Health
Most of us use gadgets for work or relaxation in today’s digitized world. Our social interactions have gone down due to devices. Even for newborns and toddlers, gadgets have started playing babysitting roles. Research has proven that excessive use of gadgets is the primary root cause of various mental health problems in children and adults alike. Here are a few critical symptoms we need to be aware of as a family to understand what the other person is going through.
- The person spending a lot of time the mindless scrolling
- Lack of concentration and reduced thinking power
- Extreme mood swings and increased anger
- Increased anxiety and stress levels
- Shying away from favorite activities/sports and persons
- Loss of appetite, disturbed sleep patterns
- Unexplained aches and pains in the physical body
These signals are so subtle that one can easily mistake them for a bad mood or gadget addiction. But, if the family is observant enough, then these changes could be caught at the earliest and addressed. Everyone in the family plays a crucial role in maintaining the family’s emotional health. And in most cases, family support is sufficient, and once the child or the adult starts opening up with their family members, most of the problems could be addressed by the family.
The recent surge in teen suicides at Kota in Rajasthan indicates that these young kids cannot open up to their parents and talk about what’s bothering them. The recent official report from NCB has revealed that student suicides are at a five-year high. This number is really alarming. That’s why we should focus on improving our family’s emotional health as the first priority.
You might be interested in reading: Why the basic knowledge of Mental Health important for parents?
How can the family make their emotional health the first priority?
Aristotle once said, “we are what we do/think repeatedly.” Hence only the adults who are emotionally intelligent and practice the same can not only teach their children about emotional intelligence but will also make it a priority for their families. But what about the other families?
Have you ever heard of the fact that “we can’t pour from the empty cup“? Hence as adults, we need first to start identifying and working on our emotions, and then we can teach the same to our children. So here are a few tips for parents to take care of their emotional health first.
- Take care of your physical health first: As a parent, you can take care of your children only if you feel well and fit. So while incorporating a fitness regime into your routine, you can include your spouse and your children so that it can become your bonding time.
- Be aware of your emotions and start acting upon them to know what to change or how to act in different situations.
- Become an active listener if you want your partner or child to respond back to you. Lack of open communication in families is the biggest complaint heard by counselors or therapists. Hence, don’t let your family fall into that trap.
- Silent communication is also essential: We must be conscious that our tone and facial expressions give away our true feelings to others. Children are very good at reading them. Hence in case we are flustered or angry, we need to calm down before talking to others. The silent clues we send to others during our conversation are crucial, as they can give a different picture altogether.
- Talk about emotions and practice Emotional choices: All emotions and feelings are OK. It’s unto us how we decide to act upon those feelings. It’s OK to say NO, depending on the situation, without disrespecting anyone. We must model the appropriate behavior so that the child can learn from us.
- Set up appropriate boundaries: A happy family always has clearly defined healthy boundaries. They talk about these boundaries with empathy and compassion. Everyone starts respecting these boundaries and would know that each individual has their limits in every space and no one can become superhuman all the time.
- Celebrate being together as a team: A happy family always functions as an effective team, where in every individual contributes to its smooth functioning. Be it for running the household chores or maintaining the house; it’s everyone’s responsibility. The team feels happy working together and helping each other.
- Celebrate individual uniqueness and cherish it: Every individual is unique with their positives and negatives. Healthy family members don’t compete for anything but help other family members achieve their goals. Sibling rivalry is the most common and beneficial aspect when treated appropriately. As long as the parents don’t play favorites or pamper one child more than the other, sibling rivalry will become a sweet memory for the children. They would start appreciating their uniqueness.
- Don’t forget to say Sorry! Accepting and acknowledging our errors to others needs a powerful mindset. Children learn it by observing, so parents shouldn’t shy away from acknowledging our mistakes and even saying Sorry to the younger children.
- Don’t shy away from expressing your love or gratitude: The gadget-driven world has converted the current generation of children into instant satisfaction and inculcated their taken-for-granted attitude. So expressing gratitude regularly as a family practice will show them how to value people and things around them. Also, children at any age still need our love and expression of love. The love language might change based on the child’s age, but that reassurance will make them confident.
- Lastly, value quality time. A happy family doesn’t mean they have much free time to spend with each other. But instead, they know the value of time and try to make it as valuable as possible in the given circumstances. They cherish those bits and pieces of stolen moments during which time they spend with each other, away from all the distractions. And those are the sweet memories that will give them the required push to complete all their other commitments with relative ease.
These are simple pointers that emotionally healthy families practice regularly and are happy with the results. How about we make the family’s emotional health a priority this new year so we can raise emotionally/mentally strong individuals of tomorrow? Please give it a try and let me know your thoughts. Please drop me a line if you can implement any other points to improve your family’s emotional/mental health.
QOTD: What do you think is more critical in the ever-competitive world? EQ or IQ? Please discuss with your child why EQ is important.
Author’s Note: This blog post is part of the Let’s Stay Hello 2023 Blogging Activity hosted by Swarnali Nath.