Caring for your child’s mental health

A mother is actually born 9 months before the baby is born. Infact, the day a woman knows that she is carrying a precious little life inside, she becomes cautious about various things in life starting from her posture, her gait, her food, her lifestyle.

Nourishment of the tiny life becomes the motive of life for a mother when she has conceived when breastfeeds and when offers solids to her baby. A baby also learns the “correct” words, watches the “correct” programs on TV, uses the “correct” products, etc.

But sometimes, in the midst of all the emphasis on food and hygiene, parents tend to forget about the mental nourishment of a child. The mind of a child is as tender as her body and if not cared for properly, may lack essential parameters.

These are some of the things that can be practiced at home to ensure that a child has a wholesome opportunity to grow emotionally as well.

  1. Shower them with positivity- A child is here to learn and explore at his own pace. That’s how nature intends him too. Reinstate his belief in his abilities with positive appreciation. If he learns to take a sip from the cup, it’s a milestone for him. I appreciate this development.
  2. Rhetorical questions – A child need not see what you see. In fact, it is important for him to develop a mind and thought the process of his own. It is essential for the development of his creative skills. Don’t tell him things always. Ask him, don’t you think the bird was amazing? When you ask a question, it forces his brain to search for an answer.
  3. Be the role model you want him to be – there is no point in telling him to speak the truth when he knows that you lie. And kids are very smart, I tell you. They remember, they assess and they analyze. If you have promised something, you may forget, but they don’t. Their world is very small. They don’t have a lot to remember, you see. So you if forget your promise, you technically lied to them. Which means they can lie to you, too.
  4. Patience – If a child is trying to tie his shoe laces, she won’t master it in a day. It will take time. For several times it will be imperfect. You can’t lose your patience. Tell them like it’s the first time. If you have to learn a new language, can you become a pro on the second day? Try learning French.
  5. Teach them about safety- In your attempt to be nice and accomodating, please know that safety is non-negotiable. It is better to teach your child about the various safety options that are there to be kept in mind. Teach them what’s hot and cold, tell them about the sharpness of knives and why they need to be kept away. Teach them about road safety – what do the red, green and yellow lights mean?
  6. Be a good listener – You don’t have to be the one talking to or talking down to your child, always. Let him do the talking. You can stop being at guard for a few minutes. Restrain your urge to “correct” him. You will see your child opening up to you, more. Because he will feel an uninhibited listener in you.
  7. Share yourself- Did you think that your child is too young to share your sadness with? Think again. Children are has a great sense of empathy. Infact they could be the best people to share your problems with. True your problems won’t go away. But they wouldn’t have gone away even if you shared then with an adult, isn’t it? Instead, let your child share a slice of your life. They will realize how important they are to you. Who knows in their innocence they may even sort out our chaos?
  8. Outdoor activities- You may have heard that outdoor activities are great for physical growth. But science says that outdoor activities are great boosters of hormones that stimulate the mind. Moreover, the greenness will do good to their eyes and the sun will do good to their need for vitamin D. They need to climb, play in the sand, get dirty, bruise their knees, pick up a few germs (it builds immunity), wear out their shoes. These are all part of growing up. Don’t deprive them of the chance.
  9. Family time- Your children have to grow up knowing the “comfort” of being in a family. It is important for them to enjoy a part of their day as a family member and an important one, that too. It is important because it tells a child that a “family” includes members who are in the innermost circle of trust. These are people who will stick together through thick and thin.
  10. Acknowledge their behavior- A child cannot communicate in too many words and why would they? You are his parent, you should know – that’s a little child’s expectation. You will notice that before your child could speak, you used to pick up cues from his behavior, right? Things don’t change over time. With a child, it’s just the same. If he is behaving differently in front of strangers, he is definitely not “comfortable” in their presence. If he is “not want to go to school”, there is something about school that he didn’t like; if he is acting violently all of a sudden, ‘something’ has definitely triggered it. Don’t ignore these cues. Not all of them are serious. Almost every child doesn’t like going to school in the beginning either because they don’t like being away from family or they don’t like a friend or a teacher. There is a reason. You can work it out if you acknowledge their behavior.

Your child’s physical and mental health both are equally important. You need to nourish them both. These few things will help you to ensure that you are providing them with an environment that allows a wholesome development of their mind.

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