Screams and yells could be heard outside the door followed by a loud crash and then deafening silence. Soon after, one could hear loud tones of an adult, in what could only be termed as a scolding. This brings us to the question: Should children never get into scrapes? Or should parents allow kids to do as they like? Well, moderation is key in parenting, and the essential ingredients of communication and respect must be present for a calm home and family. Every child carries an amalgamation of the skills they imbibe at home and behave in learnt manners with the outside world.
As you all must be aware by now that ‘mental health’ refers to our overall psychological well-being. It includes the way you feel about yourself, the quality of your relationships, and your ability to manage your feelings and deal with difficulties. It covers five essential components: self-awareness, self-management, strong relationship skills, responsible decision-making, and then giving back to society by being socially aware.
Home is a psychologically safe place, a world where you can be yourself completely. Children learn how to resolve conflicts, to form bonds, to be open to other perspectives here. Children need cheer leaders, that is motivators at home.
Also read: Why you must apologise to your children
Here are few ways in which you can help:
Communicate and be an active listener: Listening is an art and children learn from mirroring such behaviour. If we, as parents, keep our phones and work away, then the child also follows suit. Technology distractions make a child feel that he/she is not the most important person when talking about his/her issues with trusted adults. Soon, they learn to keep their emotions under wrap.
Rest: Doing nothing at home is calming. Having cosy meals with the family and laughing together, sharing joy and sadness, learning to manage strong emotions is restful, and allows you to be your true self.
Mistakes are a learning: At home at least, children should be given a chance to explain their reasons and find a solution with their family members. This helps a child with critical thinking, being aware of his/her strengths and weaknesses.
Body-image: When parents avoid comparing siblings or any family members on ways they look, it supports a positive body-image---and of course, when a parent does not ridicule certain foods, and is open to different ways people look like. If people are taken for their qualities, then growth happens, and a child feels emotionally and mentally healthy.
Social interactions: When people visit a family and children are part of these interactions, it helps them to connect with the world outside in the presence of trusted adults.
Kindness always works: Cross-questioning a family member and sarcastic tones hurt well-being. Kindness in tones, words and behavior matters.
A family is the smallest unit of a society, and yet goes a long way in determining how a child functions within it. Children, who are calm, are brought up in a relaxed home atmosphere where family members resolve conflicts, and there is a lot of communication.
Dr. Aarti Bakshi is a mother of three and a developmental psychologist and SEL (social, emotional learning) consultant at SAAR Education, a Mumbai-headquartered consortium that offers educational resources for children.