Why Our Children Have Mental Illness? – Are we doing more harm to our children by structuring their worlds as if they were adults? Maybe understanding what children really need can help minimize mental illness.
We, the Western world seem to have this unsubstantiated love affair with being “busy.” Hardly a week goes by where I don’t hear someone say something like, “I like keeping busy.” Or “It’s good to always be on the go.” More still say it with pride, like it’s some badge of honor.
But where does this idea that you work yourself to the bone, both at work and home come from? Well, partially from the dictates of the “cog in the machine effect.” In other words, soaring prices, a love affair with consumer goods, and human nature itself.
However, could there be another reason for our love for hustling and bustling? In my opinion there most certainly is. And it’s learned behavior. In other words, our parents pass down these exact methods of the “keeping busy model.”
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The trouble is, is that we humans aren’t that great at evaluating pros and cons of most things. This is especially true if one way of living is pounded into our heads. And this could be why our children have mental illness.
In my view, we would be much better off if we actually took time out of our days to 1. Educate ourselves on the benefits and harms of, in this case, always being busy. And 2. Implement action if we find that we are doing more mental harm than good.
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Unfortunately, we just don’t know enough in some cases to make a good decision. Not only for ourselves, but also for our children. For example, when we are trying to make decisions for our children there are many factors to consider. They include:
- Can their younger bodies and minds handle all that we throw at them? Parents, teachers, and coaches should better understand neurodevelopment. Pushing an underdeveloped mind can exhaust a child, and thereby leading to anxiety and depression. Childhood is a formative time in life, it may not be wise to push them as hard as an adult. After all this “always running” fixation wreaks havoc on adults. Young, impressionable minds may become wired for anxiety and depression. We know that what fires together, wires together in the brain. So, this means that we may be wiring them towards a nervous disposition. And we all know this isn’t good.
- While many may not have access to good medical information on the history of mental illness in their family, for those that do, don’t ignore it. Instead, learn to customize your child’s development around that if possible. You for instance, may not see it in your child when young, but they may be genetically predisposed to anxiety, let’s say. Now, this doesn’t mean that they will develop an anxiety disorder, nevertheless, educate yourself and implement what you learned in the raising of your child. Preparing for an event that never happens is far better than dealing with it when it does occur, right?
- : “I did it therefore so can you.” No! This is not the case; everyone is different and there are many reasons why. Things like genes, temperament, how the child is being raised and so on. Also, it’s worth noting that your child may develop a mental illness like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) down the road. If they see something traumatic, take it seriously. How to help children with PTSD
- Depending on the age and developmental level of your kids, you may have to use different approaches. For example, for young children, getting them to draw how they feel is more effective than “talking it out. Remember, it’s wise to consult with a child psychologist if you are experiencing behavioural difficulties. They may be a sign of a mental health disorder.
A place to start (resources)
How to raise a child with anxiety – https://childmind.org/article/what-to-do-and-not-do-when-children-are-anxious/ https://www.anxietycanada.com/articles/parent-child/ How to parent a Child with Anxiety (books)
How to raise a child with depression
https://nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/December-2018/5-Things-You-Can-Do-to-Help-Your-Child-with-Depression https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/emotional-problems/Pages/Childhood-Depression-What-Parents-Can-Do-To-Help.aspx Helpful books on raising children with depression
Understanding child development – Child and adolescent development.
Why Our Children Have Mental Illness?
Now that we’ve laid the groundwork for how to help our children with mental illness or potential mental illness, we can talk about the uncomfortable part. Why are we pushing our kids so hard? When did pushing them like their adults become normalized? I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking it’s for the very reasons I cited above. We just don’t think about it. Instead, we plow ahead like they are in their twenties.
Just think about it. We send our kids to school for 5- 7 hours a day, fill up their weekends with extracurricular activities, and allow them to stare at phones, TVs, and computers in between all this. Here’s the thing though – this “lifestyle” is horrendous on adults’ mental wellbeing, so, then why are we destroying our kid’s mental health too?
Now, it’s important to know that I’m not suggesting that people are parenting their children wrong. No, what I am trying to say however, is, have we as parents given all the above enough attention? Have we evaluated the pros and cons of how we raise our kids? And finally, have we stopped to think of the potential harms a “keep kids’ busy approach” can have? Sure, it’s good to keep kids out of trouble by structuring every moment of their lives, but are we creating trouble for them down the road?
We humans have certain things that help us thrive and our children are obviously no exception. With that said, there are some gold standards that help children grow to be healthy, well-adjusted adults. They include:
The Importance of Play for Children: Benefits to Development, Mental Health, and Future Success
Playtime is often seen as simply a way for children to pass the time and have fun. However, play is much more than that. It is an essential part of a child’s development and has numerous benefits that extend far beyond just having a good time.
Children are naturally curious and full of energy. They love to explore, create, and imagine. Play allows them to do all of these things while also learning and developing essential skills. Unfortunately, in today’s society, children have fewer opportunities to play than ever before. Many schools have cut recess time or eliminated it altogether, and children often spend hours in front of screens instead of engaging in physical activity and imaginative play. This is a concerning trend as play has been shown to be critical for children’s growth and development.
Benefits of Play for Development
Playtime provides children with opportunities for physical activity, which is crucial for their physical development. Running, jumping, climbing, and other forms of active play help to develop gross motor skills, coordination, and balance. This kind of play also helps to reduce the risk of childhood obesity and related health problems.
Playtime is not just good for physical development but also cognitive development. When children play, they are exposed to new experiences, and they must use their imagination, creativity, and problem-solving skills to navigate these experiences. This kind of play helps to develop critical thinking skills, creativity, and imagination.
Playtime also has significant emotional benefits for children. When children play, they experience a wide range of emotions, including joy, excitement, frustration, and disappointment. Learning to manage these emotions is an essential part of emotional development. Play also provides children with opportunities to build social skills, such as cooperation, communication, and empathy. Yes, this includes rough and tumble play.
Benefits of Play for Mental Health
Playtime can help to reduce stress and anxiety in children. When children engage in play, they release pent-up energy and tension, which can help them feel more relaxed and calmer.
Playtime can also improve children’s mood. When children play, they experience positive emotions such as joy, excitement, and happiness, which can help to lift their mood and make them feel more optimistic.
Playtime can help children develop resilience, which is the ability to bounce back from challenges and setbacks. When children play, they learn to take risks and cope with failure, which can help them build resilience.
Benefits of Play for Future Success
Playtime encourages children to be creative and innovative. When children engage in imaginative play, they learn to think outside the box and come up with new ideas, which is an essential skill for success in many areas of life.
Playtime also helps children develop problem-solving skills. When children engage in play, they encounter challenges that they must overcome. Learning to problem-solve is a critical skill that will serve them well throughout their lives.
Playtime provides children with opportunities to learn how to work as a team. When children engage in group play, they must learn to cooperate, communicate, and work together towards a common goal. These skills are essential for success in many areas of life, including school, work, and social relationships.
Now that we know the role play has in child development, one question we as parents could be asking ourselves is, “Are my children getting enough playtime? If not, what can be done to change that?” Simply put, If we want what’s best for our kids, it’s our job to incorporate things like play to help them live their best lives.
How to let kids play
As parents, we often worry about our children’s busy schedules and packed routines, leaving little room for free time. However, studies show that downtime, or time spent relaxing and engaging in unstructured activities, is crucial for our children’s development and mental health.
Let’s explore the power of downtime and its benefits for our kids. Additionally, let’s talk about how procrastination can be a valuable tool for creativity and mental wellbeing.
The Importance of Downtime
Downtime provides children with the opportunity to decompress and recharge, leading to increased focus and productivity when they return to their activities. It also allows for the exploration of personal interests and hobbies, which can foster creativity and imagination.
Furthermore, downtime provides a space for reflection and self-discovery. Children can use this time to process their thoughts and emotions, leading to improved emotional regulation and mental wellbeing.
As parents, it’s essential to encourage our children to take breaks and engage in unstructured activities. Here are a few ways to incorporate downtime into your child’s routine:
- Set aside time for relaxation and reflection: Encourage your child to spend time alone and engage in activities such as reading, drawing, or taking a walk.
- Limit screen time: Excessive screen time has been linked to decreased mental wellbeing and increased stress levels. Encourage your child to engage in activities that do not involve screens, such as board games or outdoor play.
- Embrace boredom: Instead of filling every moment of your child’s day with activities, allow for moments of boredom. These moments can lead to increased creativity and problem-solving skills. Remember, our brains are always dreaming, creating, and asking ourselves things like, “What if I try___________?” Or “What happens if I_______?”
The Benefits of Procrastination
Procrastination often gets a bad rap, but it can actually be a valuable tool for creativity and mental wellbeing. When we procrastinate, our minds have the opportunity to wander and explore new ideas, leading to increased creativity and innovative thinking.
Additionally, procrastination can reduce stress levels by providing a break from the pressure and demands of our daily lives. It can also lead to increased motivation and productivity, as we are forced to work efficiently under time constraints.
Encouraging Creative Procrastination
While procrastination can be beneficial, it’s essential to encourage creative procrastination rather than mindless scrolling or other unproductive activities. Here are a few ways to encourage creative procrastination in your child:
- Encourage exploration: Allow your child to explore new hobbies and interests, even if they seem unrelated to their current activities. This can lead to increased creativity and innovation in all areas of their lives.
- Embrace mistakes: Fear of failure can often lead to procrastination. Encourage your child to embrace mistakes and view them as opportunities for learning and growth.
- Set achievable goals: Procrastination can be overwhelming when we have a large task to complete. Encourage your child to break down their tasks into smaller, achievable goals, making it easier to tackle the task at hand.
Again, in today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to forget the importance of downtime and procrastination. However, incorporating these practices into our children’s routines can lead to increased creativity, mental wellbeing, and productivity.
Encourage your child to take breaks and engage in unstructured activities. Embrace boredom and allow for moments of creative procrastination. With these practices, our children can thrive and reach their full potential.
How to Parent for Each Developmental Stage: Approaches That Work Best With Kids From Early Childhood to Teens
Parenting is a challenging job that requires a lot of patience, dedication, and hard work. As parents, we want to do everything we can to ensure that our children grow up to be happy, healthy, and successful adults. One of the most important things we can do to achieve this goal is to adapt our parenting approach to the different developmental stages that our children go through. In this section, we will discuss how to parent for each developmental stage and the approaches that work best with kids from early childhood to teens.
Understanding the Different Developmental Stages
Before we dive into specific parenting approaches for each developmental stage, it’s important to understand the characteristics and needs of children at different ages. Here are the four main developmental stages:
Early Childhood (Ages 0-5)
During early childhood, children are developing rapidly in all areas. They are learning to walk, talk, and interact with the world around them. They are also learning important social and emotional skills, such as empathy, sharing, and self-control. As parents, it’s important to provide a safe and nurturing environment that supports their physical, cognitive, and emotional development.
Effective way of communicating with your toddler include:
1. Get down to their level: When you are communicating with your toddler, make sure you are at their eye level. This helps to establish a connection and makes it easier for them to focus on what you are saying.
2. Use simple language: Toddlers are still developing their language skills, so it’s important to use simple and clear language when communicating with them. Avoid using complex sentences or using jargon that they may not understand.
3. Speak slowly and clearly: It’s important to speak slowly and clearly when communicating with your toddler. This makes it easier for them to understand what you are saying and helps them to develop their language skills.
4. Use positive language: When communicating with your toddler, try to use positive language. Instead of saying “don’t do that,” try saying “let’s try doing it this way.” This helps to encourage positive behavior and promotes cooperation.
5. Give them your full attention: When your toddler is communicating with you, make sure you give them your full attention. Put down your phone or other distractions and focus on what they are saying. This helps to establish a strong bond and shows them that you value their thoughts and feelings.
6. Use nonverbal communication: Nonverbal communication, such as facial expressions and body language, is also important when communicating with your toddler. Smile, make eye contact, and use appropriate gestures to convey your message.
Remember, effective communication with your toddler takes time and practice. By following these tips and being patient, you can build a strong and positive relationship with your child that will last a lifetime.
Middle Childhood (Ages 6-12)
Middle childhood is a time when children start to become more independent and explore the world beyond their family. They are developing their identity, values, and beliefs, and are starting to form close relationships with friends. It’s important for parents to provide a balance of structure and freedom, and to encourage their children’s curiosity and creativity.
Effectively Communicate With Your Child (6 -12)
1. Listen actively: Give your child your full attention when they’re talking to you. This means stopping what you’re doing, making eye contact, and actively listening to what they’re saying.
2. Use clear and concise language: Children in this age group may not fully understand complex language or idioms, so it’s important to communicate in clear and simple terms.
3. Speak respectfully: Use a calm and respectful tone when communicating with your child. Avoid yelling or using harsh language, as this can be intimidating and lead to a breakdown in communication.
4. Ask open-ended questions: Encourage your child to share their thoughts and feelings by asking open-ended questions. This allows them to express themselves freely and gives you a better understanding of their perspective.
5. Acknowledge their feelings: It’s important to validate your child’s emotions by acknowledging how they feel. This shows them that you care about their feelings and helps them feel heard.
6. Use positive reinforcement: Praising your child for their good behavior can go a long way in building their confidence and self-esteem. Use specific language to reinforce their positive actions and behaviors.
7. Set clear expectations: Communicate your expectations clearly and consistently. This helps your child understand what is expected of them and creates a sense of structure and routine.
8. Be patient: Remember that children in this age group are still developing their communication skills. Be patient and allow them time to express themselves and ask questions.
Preteen (Ages 11-13)
Preteens are going through a period of rapid physical, emotional, and cognitive changes. They may experience mood swings, self-doubt, and a desire for independence. As parents, it’s important to provide support and guidance, while also respecting their growing need for privacy and autonomy.
Effectively Communicate With Your Preteen
1. Be approachable: Let your preteen know that you are always available and approachable whenever they want to talk. They should feel comfortable coming to you with any issues they may have.
2. Listen actively: Listening to your preteen is crucial to effective communication. Give them your full attention and actively listen to what they are saying.
3. Use clear and concise language: Use simple and clear language when communicating with your preteen. Avoid using technical language or words they may not understand.
4. Be respectful: Use a calm and respectful tone when communicating with your preteen. Avoid yelling or using harsh language, as this can be intimidating and lead to a breakdown in communication.
5. Show empathy: Try to understand your preteen’s perspective and show empathy towards their feelings. This helps them feel heard and understood.
6. Ask open-ended questions: Encourage your preteen to express themselves by asking open-ended questions. This allows them to share their thoughts and feelings freely.
7. Set boundaries: Communicate your expectations and boundaries clearly and consistently. This helps your preteen understand what is expected of them and creates a sense of structure and routine.
8. Offer guidance: Preteens often need guidance and support as they navigate through life. Offer advice and help whenever needed and let them know that you are there to support them.
Teenagers (Ages 13-18)
Effectively Communicate With Your Adolescent
1. Be available and present: Make yourself available to your teen when they want to talk. Put away your phone or other distractions and give them your full attention.
2. Use open-ended questions: Encourage your teen to share their thoughts and feelings by asking open-ended questions. This shows them that you value their perspective and helps them feel heard.
3. Listen actively: Active listening involves not only hearing what your teen is saying but also understanding their perspective. This helps build trust and strengthens your relationship.
4. Avoid judgment: Try not to judge or criticize your teen’s thoughts or feelings. Instead, show empathy and try to understand where they’re coming from.
5. Be respectful: Use a calm and respectful tone when communicating with your teen. Avoid yelling or using harsh language, as this can be intimidating and lead to a breakdown in communication.
6. Share your own experiences: Teens often appreciate hearing about your own experiences and how you handled similar situations. This can help them feel less alone and more supported.
Listen To Chapters 1 Thu 5 of The Road To Mental Wellness
7. Set clear boundaries: Communicate your expectations and boundaries clearly and consistently. This helps your teen understand what is expected of them and creates a sense of structure and routine.
8. Offer support: Let your teen know that you are there to support them no matter what. Encourage them to talk to you about any issues they may be facing and offer help and guidance when needed.
Teenagers are experiencing the transition from childhood to adulthood, and are exploring their identity, values, and goals. They may be dealing with peer pressure, academic stress, and hormonal changes. It’s important for parents to foster open communication, respect their teenagers’ opinions and choices, and provide guidance and support as they navigate the challenges of adolescence.
Model good behavior and look after your own mental well-being
As a parent, your role in your child’s life is crucial. You are responsible for shaping your child’s character and providing them with the love, support, and guidance they need to grow up happy and healthy. However, in order to fulfill this role effectively, it is important to take care of yourself as well. After all, you cannot pour from an empty cup.
Looking after yourself is not only important for your own well-being, but it is also essential for being a good role model for your children. Children learn by watching and imitating the behavior of the adults around them. If they see their parents prioritizing their own self-care, they will learn to do the same.
One of the most important aspects of self-care is mental well-being. Being a parent can be incredibly stressful and demanding, and it is easy to put your own needs on the backburner. However, neglecting your own mental health can lead to burnout and have negative effects on both you and your children.
There are many things you can do to prioritize your mental well-being. Taking breaks when you need them, whether it is going for a walk or having a quiet moment alone, can help you recharge and feel more refreshed. Engaging in activities you enjoy, such as reading or practicing a hobby, can also be beneficial for your mental health. Additionally, seeking support from a therapist or counselor can be incredibly helpful if you are struggling with mental health issues.
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Physical self-care is also important for your overall well-being. Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly are all essential for maintaining good physical health. Taking care of your physical health can also help you manage stress and improve your mood.
Finally, it is important to prioritize your social well-being. Spending time with friends and loved ones can help you feel connected and supported. Additionally, setting boundaries and learning to say no when necessary, can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
Finally, looking after yourself is essential for being the best parent you can be. By prioritizing your own mental, physical, and social well-being, you can model good behavior for your children and create a healthy and happy environment for your family. Remember, taking care of yourself is not selfish – it is necessary for your own well-being and that of your children.
Final thought on Why Our Children have Mental Illness?
In my view, we can neither allow our children to do nothing, nor push them into an adult-like lifestyle. If we acknowledge that our own mental health can be destroyed by our own lives, then we must conclude that expecting children to take on what we do is harmful. Their brains are different, their life experience is limited, and neuro-physiologically speaking, they need to take life slower. Essentially, they need to grow into adulthood with love and mentorship.
So, why do our children have mental illness? Maybe it’s because we fail to understand how important it is to let kids just be kids. Furthermore, we, the adults, need to think about our own motives for “keeping them busy.” Is it pressure from others? Maybe it’s a false narrative you’ve heard? Regardless of its source, we need to ensure that it’s not driven by our own needs and ideas.
Finally, Parenting is a complex and challenging job, but by adapting our approach to the different developmental stages of our children, we can help them grow up to be happy, healthy, and successful adults. By using effective communication techniques, setting boundaries and limits, and fostering open and honest communication, we can build strong and healthy relationships with our children that will last a lifetime.
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