According to occupational therapist Victoria Prooday, there is a tragedy affecting modern families and children. This silent tragedy affects how teachers, professionals, and parents work with children, and over time has become more prevalent than ever before.
A tragedy affecting students
When it comes to the emotional state and mental health of children, a study by Prooday has shown that one in five children suffer issues relating to mental illness, with particular focus on ADHD, depression and even suicidal tendencies.
What does this mean for children?
In terms of the causes of this visible increase in mental health problems, it’s been suggested that the reason is rooted in the environment in which kids are raised. While there is plenty of evidence that individual children are born with disabilities or other cognitive functioning issues, research suggests that more children could be developing issues as a direct result of their upbringing, from the parenting styles utilized to the environment in which they grow.
What causes mental health issues in children?
When it comes to the growth and development of children into healthy, well-adjusted adults, the conversation about nature vs. nurture has always been a divisive one; with many experts concluding that both can have an impact.
As such, a healthy childhood can have a significant effect on a child’s ability to cope with stressful situations or challenges later in life, whether it’s during their teenage years or into adulthood.
Some of the core requirements many children need to succeed and have a healthy childhood are:
- Consistent emotional support and validation from parents
- Guidance and defined limits in the home and at school
- Trust and clear responsibilities
- Good sleep hygiene and health-led nutrition
- Access to space for exercise outdoors
- Social interaction, creative time and unstructured play
In the modern age, many of these requirements aren’t being met consistently. Whether it’s the ability to offer consistent guidance due to their own busy lives, or a need for their child to be entertained at all times to avoid boredom and behavior issues, modern parenting has transformed in recent years – and in many ways, not for the better.
Because of the pressure and requirements on parents to do it all, and a wealth of conflicting information, parenting and teaching effectively in 2019 can be a confusing and challenging task. With every gathering, social media group and meet-up holding its own minefield of different beliefs and parenting theories, many parents are losing sight of the bigger picture. Providing a child with a healthy childhood isn’t about how much money you earn to provide them with expensive toys, or following strict plans to a tee; it’s about giving children the basics they need to succeed in day to day life.
Because of this lack of balance, parents are often left with children that do not grow in a consistently healthy environment, leading to emotional problems and even mental health concerns further down the line. While parenting isn’t about perfection, it is about consistency in the values that matter – something that’s vital to focus on to offer children the best possible chance.
How to provide a healthy childhood
For parents and teachers to positively affect the lives of their children, going back to the basics is an important place to start. It’s also vital to note that children require certain levels of discipline and structure to succeed.
While it may be easier to get along better with your child or student by allowing them to be stimulated by tablets, consoles or other electronics, in the long run taking a stand is better for their mental health. In the short-term, your child may not be your friend, but they will undoubtedly have an improvement in their mental and emotional state within a few short weeks.
Here are ways to improve the balance of your child’s lifestyle:
- Spend time outdoors in green or otherwise open-air space once a day
- Choose nutritious and healthy options for your child, and reduce snacking
- Designate time to be technology-free
- Get your child involved in daily household and classroom responsibilities and chores
- Enforce a consistent sleeping routine and schedule that’s technology-free
- Spend social time together as a family
Once these simple steps are down, parents and teachers can then move onto other ways in which they can provide their child with a healthier household and classroom. This includes providing ways for them to develop greater independence, such as laying out their school clothes the night before and reducing technology use overall – for both yourself and your children.
Another critical thing is allowing children to be bored. Instead of mitigating boredom by providing immediate entertainment, instead, offer activities and more constructive boredom solvers that are healthier in the long run.
As a parent or teacher, do you struggle to find balance when it comes to raising and educating your children and students? With so much conflicting information, it’s challenging to know what to do right. But getting back to basics can be a vital way to reset your that dynamic, and improve emotional health in the future too.