Parenting Tips and Role of Family in Mental Health of Children
Family, particularly parents, play a major role in good mental health of children. The sooner you identify your responsibility, the better equipped will you be to bring up a psychologically stable individual.
A survey by the American Psychological Association revealed that the number of people, including children, who suffer from mental health problems has increased significantly over last decade. Experts believe that the role of family in mental health of growing adults is as important as taking the right action at the right time.
Causes of Mental Disturbance
Anything that the child might perceive as traumatic will disturb a child. The following are some risk factors.
- Changes like moving home, school or birth of a sibling
- Physical changes during puberty
- Parents’ divorce or separation
- Death of a close relative
- Long-term physical illness
- Poverty or homelessness
- Discrimination related to sexuality, race or religion
- Abusive guardians or bullying in the peer group
- Parents having problems – mental health, alcoholism, legal issues, etc.
- Long-term educational difficulties
There may be more such situations that lead to mental health problems in a child. The problems can foster as:
- Depression – More in young adults than children
- ADHD – Often ignored as an overactive behaviour
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder – Being extremely worried about things including starting or moving school
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder – Being a victim of distressing situations; growing in politically disturbed areas
- Eating Disorders – Mostly seen among teenaged girls
The Solution to Mental Health Issues
If any child is facing mental health issues, the recovery is a two-pronged approach – clinical recovery and personal recovery. Clinical recovery involves diagnosis, symptom management, remission and psychosocial functioning. Contrarily, personal recovery has individual concepts such as self-identity, hope, wellness, self-determination, and acceptance. Family plays a big part in this journey towards personal recovery.
Role of Family in Mental Health and Parents’ Responsibility
A positive surrounding and a supportive family goes a long way in building a balanced individual. The initiation towards healthy mental condition starts at childhood. The importance of parents and the role of family in mental health of a child is undeniable. There are many things you can do to nurture your child’s healthy psyche.
Help them develop self-esteem
Recognise their efforts. Take interest in their activities. Value their opinions. All these actions will make them feel good about themselves.
Help them build stable and caring relationships
Spend some family time together. Let them realise their importance in the family and the importance of family for them. Let them mingle with the extended family and build a special rapport with any significant member.
Let them voice their feelings
Encourage children to express negative emotions. Understand that it is important to respect their feelings. Openly discuss your problems and feelings to keep the conversation flowing. If the child is comfortable talking to somebody other than you, allow them to speak up.
Create an atmosphere of safety and security at home
Take care of your mental health. Be positive and love yourself. Let them know that they are always loved and accepted at home and that the family will always support their decisions.
Help develop solution-oriented thinking against problem-oriented thinking
Teach them to relax when upset through deep breathing, talking, quiet walk, etc. Help them come to solutions to the problem through discussion. Coax ideas without actually taking over.
Be consistent and establish healthy habits
Whatever you or the family might be going through, the chaos should not reflect on the child. Be unswerving about rewards and punishments. Help develop good daily activities for a better mind and body.
Be aware of their social media usage, TV and movie watching. Be casually alert about their friend’s group
Being in touch with their social activities will keep you abreast about issues such as peer pressure, bullying, cybercrime and depression.
Be alert and observe changes in behaviour
When you find any variation in attitude, ask. Have an open talk. When in doubt, get professional help. Your awareness and support can do wonders to your child’s mental health.
Reference: ASFP, Very Well Family, NASP, Caring For Kids,