Childhood is the golden period of our lives. It is a period of innocence, happiness, and childish glee. All of us cherish this period of our life as we felt safe, secure, and loved most then. What if mental health issues hampered these golden moments of our life? Or what if the child’s emotional health is affected but no one ever knows? This can leave a permanent scar in the life of the child.
Most parents focus on the physical health of their children. They forget that the child’s emotional health can affect his physical well-being too. While parents are keen on developing the physical fitness, immunity, or even academic scores of the child, the child might be suffering from mental health concerns. Only when these mental disorders manifest themselves as physical symptoms, do the parents sit up and notice. By then, it is often too late and the harm has been done.
7 basic factors that are a must for every child’s mental health and well-being
To avoid such mental health disorders, parents have to just focus on these 7 things outlined below.
#1 – Unconditional parental love
As a child, all we know are our parents. We need the love of both the father and mother in specific ways. A happy and united family is the basic foundation for a child’s mental health and well-being.
When a child is exposed to an atmosphere of marital discord where the parents are constantly quarrelling, he suffers persistent sadness. If the parents are divorced, the child can suffer from separation anxiety. Even if the child is with a custodial parent, the child can have strong fears and show symptoms of depression.
Since the risks of depression are high in such cases, it is better to undertake child therapy. Consulting a child mental health specialist would be the right thing to do.
#2 – Safe and secure surroundings
In childhood, children are carefree because they are in a safe environment. The protection of their parents. The comfort of the family and the peaceful ambience of a secure home contribute to the mental health and well-being of the child.
If a child lives in a neighbourhood where clashes and strife are common, he is bound to be affected by intense fear. Similarly, living under constant threats of child abuse can harm the personality and social interactions of the child. Adverse life events always affect the child’s outlook on life by causing social anxiety.
Parents of children must take care to nurture them in surroundings where there is minimal conflict, chaos, or instability. A stable and secure environment is what a child needs to maintain good mental health.
#3 – Interaction with other children
Childhood is all about play, play, and play. Every child must have ample opportunities for peer interaction. The child must play to their heart’s content, without any restrictions, or inhibitions. Only then will he learn the art of social interaction and community bonding.
Playing helps a child express his creativity and personality. Even physically-challenged children must play, at least using board games. This makes them develop good peer relationships in life.
A child must learn to reach out and strike a friendship with another playmate, resolve conflicts, and develop team spirit and leadership. All this is possible only by playing.
A child can play with his parents too, but finding friends of his/her age is equally important to nurture peer relationships. Playing is not just for physical activity but also for the mental health of the child.
#4 – Congenial school atmosphere
School is the only other place where a child spends most of his time. A good school environment with encouraging teachers can help improve the academic development of the child.
Parents must not dwell just on the academic history or school performance of the child. They should join hands with school counsellors to identify his problems at school.
From Preschool to adult life, most children suffer from ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Identifying such mental health conditions early can not only boost the child’s academic performance but help him overcome mental health challenges easily.
#5 – Boost confidence and self-esteem
From Preschool to adult life, at every step of the way, a child needs encouragement from his parents, family, friends, and even community providers.
Lack of encouragement can cause childhood depression in children. The strict or overbearing attitude of the parents or too much discipline can instil symptoms of anxiety in children.
Setting very high goals and pressurizing the children to achieve them can cause extreme depression and increase the suicide risks in children.
Parents and teachers should lead by example and be honest with children. They should set realistic goals and motivate children to achieve them.
#6 – Guidance and the right amount of discipline
While too much discipline hurts, too little discipline is also dangerous.
Children must be taught to explore new activities in their idle time while sticking to certain basic ground rules. Boundaries should be drawn to help children regulate their daily lives.
Parents must learn to say NO politely to unhealthy activities or undisciplined behaviour. Children must be taught to adhere to the code of conduct in both family and society.
Parents must not nag, threaten, beg, or bribe a child. Instead, they should guide them rightly from time to time.
Making children participate in peer programs and community programs helps them learn all about coping with tough times and living healthy life.
#7 – Spend time and listen
Every child needs a little bit of time and attention from his parents, family, and even school teachers. Spending quality time with children and listening to them can help us understand their forms of fear.
Teenagers exhibit aggressive behaviour only to attract the attention of others. Even self-injury and self-destructive behaviour can be prevented by spending time and listening to the child patiently.
Listening to the child is the first step to treatment. It can help you identify the signs of depression or symptoms of anxiety in children at an early stage itself.
Providing the child with some time and attention is the least one can do to promote his mental health.
Most of the child’s mental health conditions are due to a lack of care, attention, security, recognition, and respect. Help children avoid mental health issues by providing the above 7 factors that the child needs.
Despite providing these factors, if mental health issues persist, consult an experienced child psychiatrist. These issues if ignored can develop into complex mental disorders like bipolar disorder, panic attacks, etc. An able mental health professional uses various treatment plans including behaviour therapy, cognitive-behaviour therapy, family therapy, etc.
Pay attention to a child’s mental health and well-being always. Every child must be mentally healthy to be physically healthy and emotionally happy every day.
If you need help with mental health, then contact Dr. Sagnik Mukherjee. He is one of the best psychiatrists in Kolkata and can remedy your issues.
Mental Health Research Centre (MHRC) is a psychiatric clinic in Jodhpur Gardens, Kolkata with a team of qualified psychiatrists and psychologists. It is been run by Dr Sagnik Mukherjee (MBBS; MD; MIPS; MIAPP) the best psychiatrist in Kolkata. Dr Sagnik and his team do psycho-diagnostic tests and also give effective treatment for most types of mental conditions, for all ages. Dr Sagnik Mukherjee is a Consultant Psychiatrist and de-addiction specialist, practising in MHRC with over a decade of experience in the field of mental health. He has attended multiple national and international conferences on psychiatry & related topics besides delivering lectures & appearing on TV. His area of interest is geriatric mental problems, and child psychiatry. To book an appointment visit 164/A2 Prince Anwar Shah Road Lake Gardens City 700045 or please call 9831 313 020.