Being a parent is not as easy as it looks. It feels like children should come with a manual attached to them. Unfortunately, they don’t. It would be easy to raise PERFECT CHILDREN in this IMPERFECT WORLD that we live in today.
Growing up, children were meant to be seen, not heard. As a child, your responsibility in life is to be HAPPY, as long as your parents provided all that you needed, you had no choice than to be happy.
However, is being “HAPPY” only provided by material things?
We have seen that the “Rich also CRY”. They have “it all”, and they are still unhappy. But Why?
Raising mentally healthy adults begins when they are young. As young as when they can express themselves and communicate with you.
I am a firm believer that everything starts at home. LOVE, HAPPINESS, HATRED, DEPRESSION, all begins in the home. Having a stable home/household means having a stable child.
So how do you nurture your child’s mental health?
- Actively listen to them. When they come to you being vulnerable, they are seeking your full attention. Not you being busy or multitasking. I learned that from one of my mentors. She told me that whenever her son comes to talk to her, no matter how busy she is, she takes a break from it and listens to him effectively. Them knowing that you are listening eases the conversation.
- Be Patient. Please do not rush them. We live in an impatient society. We want the food “fast”, we want to get to that meeting on time, that we don’t take the time to slow down and listen. Don’t say “Be snappy I have lots to do now” “Or I don’t have all day to listen to you”. These statements automatically say I DO NOT CARE!
- Share your feelings and validate theirs.
- Tell the truth. Growing up, I thought my parents were PERFECT. They made no mistakes. Being a mom, I realize that there are no perfect parents. Parents were born into a home, learned life’s lessons along the way; made their mistakes, learned or not learn from them, have children and decide their parenting skills. Some parents can be brutally honest with their children, while some withhold some truths because they don’t want to hurt the child. Being honest with your child tells them that you are human. It also helps them see things from a different view.
- Model Healthy Behavior. Be the mirror that they see.
- Be Consistent and follow through with what you promised.
- Believe in them and Believe them. This is so important. You raised your children a certain way, so you can always tell when they are lying. Believing them changes the game.
- Practice relaxation exercises together.
- Surround them with healthy adults. Who are your friends? What do you talk about? Do you know your friends?
- Teach them to be safe.
- Use open-ended questions.
- Have scheduled family time. Key point. Meaningful family time. Schedule game nights, Karaoke nights, a trip to the beach or a family vacation. While doing these things, discuss issues that they might want to talk about. If you have multiple children, set separate dates for each one.
- Model forgiveness. You cant give what you don’t have. If you don’t have forgiveness in you then they won’t forgive. Remember you are the MIRROR.
- Respond Calmly when their emotions are elevated.
- Limit electronic time for everyone. (We are still struggling with this in my household).
- Reach out and hug them. Hugs are special. I remember one elderly lady telling me she never had a hug growing up. They need your hugs and kisses every day.
- Tell them how much you love them. Say it every day, that it becomes part of them.
- View their behavior as a window to their needs and feelings.
- Make play and exercise a requirement.
- Set and respect boundaries.
- Recognize positive choices
- Celebrate their little achievements
- Always remember to connect them to their source (GOD). This I added for those who believe in God. I always remember that I have someone who watches over me when I’m down and alone.