Supporting Your Child in Times of Crisis and Beyond
The world is a tumultuous place at the moment - to say the least. Families around the world are coping with an ongoing pandemic whilst trying to maintain a normal family life and a routine for their children. Any parent who had to, or still has to work from home with small children in the house will understand what a struggle this was and for many still is. It is safe to say that our mental health now plays an even more vital role in our lives than ever before. We are challenged in ways we didn’t think were possible and staying sane became increasingly hard.
Despite the difficulties many of us are dealing with, the fact that we are more openly speaking about topics that have been deemed as taboo is simply incredible. Sharing our hardship with others and learning that our friends, neighbors, or family members are going through the same can alone be somewhat comforting.
The overall more open discussion around mental health is a huge benefactor and today, we want to take the time to talk a bit about mental health and children and the role it plays in their development.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, 1 in 10 children is affected by mental health issues and a staggering 70% have not received proper support to work through any issues. Any parent wants their child to grow up happy and healthy with the ability to cope with problems and equipped with mechanisms to address them. But only so few actually grow up being taught how to handle problems and overcome adversity. There is plenty of information readily available for parents to learn about how to support their child’s development but so much of it seems very obvious and we tend to not give it too much thought. What we need is an internal reflection on our own parenting habits and a sort of pressure test, that includes asking ourselves uncomfortable questions. Challenge yourself on how you react in certain situations with your child and really evaluate your reactions.
Here are some pointers:
Are you honest with your child?
Do you praise your child?
Are you guiding them in setting realistic goals for themselves and learning about managing expectations?
Are you supportive of your child’s dreams and aspirations?
Do you take your child seriously when they come to you with a problem or concern? Do you really listen?
How do reason with your child during a conflict? Do you criticize them directly or do you try to focus on the behavior?
During our day-to-day, it can seem daunting to pick apart your own reaction and behavior and stop yourself in certain situations. But what we really need to do is pay attention to ourselves. We are the main influencer in our children’s lives and our behavior sets a precedent in theirs.
Most children grow up mentally healthy, but surveys suggest that more children and young people have problems with their mental health today than 30 years ago. That’s probably because of changes in the way we live now and how that affects the experience of growing up. (Mental Health Foundation)
Life's circumstances are different from the ones that influenced our own upbringing. Let's honor that and realize that technological advancement and social media especially play a huge part in our kid's lives. Especially with young children, try to focus on reading books and slowly ease them into using technology.
In our previous post, we talked about 10 great books to bring diversity to your kid’s bookshelf and today, we’d like to leave you with a selection of books focusing on mental health and supporting your family in developing healthy habits and behavioral patterns that we hope you find as useful as you find it inspiring:
For adults interested in developing a growth mindset themselves and passing on the same to their kids: Mindset by Carol S. Dweck
For six to 11-year-olds: Charlie Changes Into a Chicken by Sam Copeland.
On self-esteem: What I Like About Me! by Allia Zobel Nolan
On expression feelings: In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek
On bullying: Am I a Bully? by Hope Gilchrist
As parents - or humans in general - we are never done learning about ourselves and others. Let’s do it with an open mind and open heart and support each other in raising the next generation of emotionally intelligent human beings. Our world depends on it.