Undeniably, the physical health of a child is always our prime concern. A paper cut on a finger or a fractured leg is a visible sign of an ill health. But, there is an invisible side of any individual’s growth and development too. I hope you will agree, that children do not have needs that are only biological in nature. But also some very covert psychological, social and emotional needs.
So, I would like to share a few ways in which you can help attend to the mental health of your child.
1. Build Trustworthy Relationships
Try spending quality time with the young ones. Less screen time and more lego time, family meals, nature walks etc.
2. Provide Liberty
Let them try eating by themselves, even if it means creating a bit of a mess. Say things like, “You can go and look what’s inside the room. I’ll be right here if you need me.”
3. Develop Self Esteem
Ideally praise them when they do well at something, especially when they tried something new.
4. Respect their Decisions and Offer Choices
Making decisions is a stepping stone towards empowerment. When elders offer alternatives, it allows the child to explore all options and make an informed decision.
5. Encourage Communication
How do you feel? How was your school today? Did you learn something interesting? We can talk about it when you want. Opening channels of communication help give a chance to actively vent out and cope with situations.
6. Be Empathetic and Talk Openly about Emotions
This is probably the most crucial aspect of emotional development. If you can get upset over losing your phone, they can feel the same way over losing a toy. Communicate this understanding eg. “I understand that you are angry right now. It is okay. We all can get sad at times. I am right here.”
7. Limit your Teaching
We can never imagine a child’s emotional turmoil on losing a favourite toy or a friend. (If it helps, as mentioned before, imagine losing your new phone… Now you know!)
Encourage the child to learn on their own. Ask “What do you think that is?” The point is to empower the child and when we ask them their opinion, they feel confident and respected.
8. Foster natural modes of communication
It is hard for children to completely rely on words to express themselves. Try using drawing, role play, free flowing movement to express it. This enhances their motor skills and life skills eg. resilience, positive self esteem, autonomy etc.
9. Don’t Rush the Child
Every child has their own unique speed of learning and doing. We tend to make the child learn something so that they are ahead of other children. Avoid it. Maybe, the task is not age appropriate.
10. Listen and Be there
Often children don’t want answers from us. They are only excited to share their unique point of view or show their ability to learn new things.
No facet of human health can be undermined. Fulfilling the biological needs of individuals allows them to survive. But, when we meet psycho- emotional needs, we allow people to THRIVE!
Mental Health Practitioner, actively working as a low intensive therapist for the psychological well-being of children, adolescents and adults.
If you too have a point of view to share, write to us at :
aakritij154@gmail and we will publish it through our blog!