With the ongoing pandemic, children have been through a lot of adjustment concerns that are sometimes neglected. Although the internet and technology has a lot of pros, it definitely has a lot of cons as well which includes excessive screen time and not knowing when to stop and draw the line which can again lead to a lot of mental health concerns. Mental health like physical health needs a lot of care. Just like adults, children too may have mental health concerns that require attention.
Identifying and educating people about mental health during their childhood helps to deal with adversities and changes in behaviour effectively and emerge as well adjusted, adapted fully grown adult
There is a common question and concern among parents as to how they can educate/talk about mental health to their children. Well, just like how we educate children about physical health and what they should do if they feel unwell, in the same children can be taught at their earlier stages about mental health (Ex- To express how they are feeling on a good and bad day, how to deal with disappointment or when things do not go their way, etc.).
Parents need to take an active role in line with their child’s mental health as most kids might tell how they may be feeling but there are the others who show how they are feeling and most often they go unnoticed. Engaging in their playtime, doing activities with them, actively involving in their study time are some of the ways in which parents can interact and educate children about mental health
There are a few signs and red flags to identify if a child is going through some mental health issues:
•Behavioural signs: Behavioural changes in children occur when there are modifications in the environment around them or when things do not go their way. This could include their interactions with their peers, family, and their interactions with significant others
Red flags: Temper tantrums, harming oneself or others, withdrawal, overeating or under-eating, changes in sleep patterns, and gadget dependence( excessive screen time)
•Emotional Signs: Emotions form the framework of a human being’s ability to think and feel. Just as how adults experience complex emotions, children also experience a wide range of emotions. However, sometimes children find it difficult to explain the kind of emotions they are feeling and this leads to a lot of emotional distress leading to a spiral down in their overall well-being
Red flags: Persistent sadness over a period of time from 3-6 weeks, bouts of crying, feeling anxious, clinging and unwilling to let go of the parent, excessive fear (new or recurring fear), spells of anger, whining, stubbornness
•Academic concerns: Academics play a pivotal role in children for it determines their understanding, knowledge as well as the ability to retain and reproduce information that is learned
Red flags: The common academic concerns that a child experiences and exhibits are attention/retention, difficulty in comprehension, learning difficulties, drop in grades as a result of showing disinterest towards academics and skipping schools
•Self/social related signs: Childhood is the essence of adulthood and having a positive environment helps the child to have a healthy relationship with oneself and others around them. As children grow they are always in a constant struggle between their real self and their ideal self. The struggle is influenced by peer pressure, parenting styles, and social interactions.
Red flags: When the child is in the constant battle to find out their identity the common signs to look for are, self-doubt, and constant comparison with peers, inferiority complex
Children begin their formative years by observing and learning from their parents and significant others in their lives. It is important that parents model positive and healthy behaviour to their children for them to have a good transition through adolescence. These are just some common signs to look for; however, parents need to be more mindful in their approach for holistic growth in their children and walk along with them in this journey.
(This article is attributed to Susan Stephens, Sr. Counselor & Psychotherapist, Medall Mind)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of India TV)