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In comparison to adults, children are prone to getting traumatized by troubling events easily, and this makes it important for parents to help their children when the times are tough. It could be a brutal accident, an unprecedented pandemic, a violent crime, or other disasters but with the right parental support, children have a higher chance of coming out stronger from an awful situation.
Anuja Kapur, Psychologist shares few tips wherein you can assist your child when tough times comes calling:
Every child responds differently to disturbing events: What children feel about a current disaster in their life and how they react to it can come and go in waves. Children can act moody and withdrawn at times, struck with sorrow and fear at other times. There's no absolute "right" or "wrong" way to feel after a traumatic event so make sure not to dictate what your child or how your child should feel and react to the event.
Children can act moody and withdrawn at times, struck with sorrow and fear at other times. | Photo by Kat J on Unsplash
Encourage your child to be transparent: Just make sure you let your child know that whatever feelings they're experiencing is normal. The unpleasantness will pass if your child opens up about it and that the phase is temporary. While many teens may be reluctant to talk about their feelings with a parent, encourage them to confide in another trusted adult such as a family friend, relative, or a counselor and teacher. It's important to talkeeven if it's not with you.
Just make sure you let your child know that whatever feelings they're experiencing is normal. | Photo by Sebastián León Prado on Unsplash
Deter your child from reliving the disturbing event: Dwelling over, watching the footage, or imagining the event can be overwhelmingly stressful for children and this stress can even block their nervous system. However, to negate such things from happening encourage activities that keep your child's mind occupied so they're not obsessive about the event. You could encourage your children to read, play games together, or simply watch an uplifting movie.
Dwelling over, watching the footage, or imagining the event can be overwhelmingly stressful for children and this stress can even block their nervous system. | Photo by Юлія Дубина on Unsplash
Cocoon your child with warmth: In order to reassure your child that they are safe with you and feel secure, that the worst is over your physical affection is important in making them feel safe again. Teens may try to be tough through it and avoid being held, but they still need the proximity.
In order to reassure your child that they are safe with you and feel secure, that the worst is over your physical affection is important in making them feel safe again. | Photo by adrianna geo on Unsplash
Maintain routines. Establishing a predictable structure and schedule for your child's life can help to make the world seem more stable again. Try to maintain regular times for meals, homework, and family activities. Make sure your child accommodates time and space for rest, play, and fun. Keeping up with a schedule can help countercheck the obnoxious feeling of stress and worry in children about the future being dark, hopeless, and unpredictable.
Try to maintain regular times for meals, homework, and family activities. | Photo by Paico Oficial on Unsplash
Acknowledge and validate your child's concerns. The disastrous events in life may give place to unrelated fright and concerns in your child. However, understanding and accepting your child's present state is a comfort for the child. If at any point the child blames himself for the event make sure to make it clear and crisp the event was not their fault, you love them, and it's okay for them to feel upset, angry, or scared but not guilty.
Understanding and accepting your child's present state is a comfort for the child Photo by Jeremiah Lawrence on Unsplash
Irrespective of the age of your child, it is vital for parents to offer that extra support and assistance following an unsettling event. The traumatic event may bring up unrelated fears and issues in your child. However, by accepting their thoughts and replacing their fear with your love and direction, the ominous feelings will start to fade away. Eventually, the child will be able to return to a normal and healthy life. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Kids, Help, stress, cope, routine, warmth, understanding, encourage, psychology, children
By Siddhi Jain
The author who named the book after her twin sons -- Puhor and Niyor -- is a parent who has seen and heard the tales of ridicule and discrimination suffered by many in India and beyond. She says the book is an artistic illustration for kids that details how different families can live and coexist. Whether it's children with two dads or two moms, children with a single dad or single mom, and even multiracial family units, Borthakur's book teaches love, understanding, and compassion towards unconventional families.
Beyond race, gender, color, and ethnicity which have formed the bases for discrimination since the beginning of time, this book aims to bring to light a largely ignored issue. For so long, single parents have been treated like a taboo without any attempt to understand their situations; no one really cares how or why one's marriage ended but just wants to treat single parents as villains simply for choosing happiness and loving their children.
Homosexual parents, a relatively new family system, is another form that has suffered hate and discrimination for many years. Pritisha emphasizes the need to understand that diversity in people and family is what makes the world beautiful and colourful. 'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race, and even differences in background
'Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories' is a firm but compassionate statement against all forms of discrimination on the bases of sexual identity, gender, race and even differences in background. | Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash
Written for a global audience, the book is targeted at kids between the ages of five and 10, the reason it is embellished with colourful images of families of different types is to appeal to children's sense of sight and drive home the message at the same time. Borthakur believes children are the best place to start because the ages between five and 10 are the most formative, where little ones pick up habits, beliefs and perceptions.
The Guwahati-born author says, "With this book, I'm not trying to take away the job of parents in forming habits, I simply want to do my part as a parent. It is important that we impart the right values in our kids in a bid to build a better, more inclusive and tolerant global society that is fair to everyone." The author's first attempt at a book was an Assamese poetry 'Anubhav', published in 2010.
Set to be published under the label of Author's Channel, the book is like an adventure; a journey into uncharted territories, untouched subjects and matters long ignored. In her words. "The book takes a critical stand in defense of people in society who have had to undergo severe emotional torture for no cause of theirs. It is a terrible conception to think such people any less of a human just for being different," says publisher Aruna Naidu. By September 30, this title, priced at Rs 299, will be available online and in offline bookstores. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Book, children, Guwahati, Puhor and Niyor's Mural of Family Stories, moral, story, kids, discrimination, equality
Children exposed to high levels of air pollution are up to 50 per cent more likely to self-harm later in life, suggested a study that adds to evidence of link between air pollution and mental health problems. Researchers from the University of Manchester in England and Aarhus University examined 1.4million kids under 10 in Denmark and found that those exposed to a high level of nitrogen dioxide were more likely to self harm in adulthood than their peers, the Daily Mail reported.
And people in the same age group exposed to above average levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) were 48 per cent more likely to subsequently self-harm, revealed the study published in the journal Preventive Medicine. Nitrogen dioxide is mainly produced by cars, while PM2.5 is mainly emitted by burning diesel and petrol, which is most commonly used for shipping and heating. These two pollutants are among those most commonly linked with causing harm to physical health, such as heart and lung diseases, by getting into the bloodstream and causing inflammation.
"Our findings add to the growing evidence-base indicating that higher levels of air pollution exposure are linked with poor mental health outcomes," lead author Dr Pearl Mok, a research fellow at Manchester University was quoted as saying. "Although air pollution is widespread, it is a modifiable risk factor and we therefore hope our study findings will inform policymakers who are devising strategies to combat this problem," Mok added.
"Our findings add to the growing evidence-base indicating that higher levels of air pollution exposure are linked with poor mental health outcomes," lead author Dr Pearl Mok | Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash
While the researchers have not explained the mechanism for how these pollutants can cause mental health problems, they say high pollution levels could trigger inflammation in the brain, leading to mental health conditions, the report said. Childhood is a 'sensitive time for brain development', so youngsters may be 'particularly susceptible' to negative effects from toxic particles in the air, they added.
Further, the team found that some 32,984 people (2.3 per cent) harmed themselves in the study period, with cases higher among women, those whose parents had mental illness and individuals from poorer families. Exposure to an average of 19 microgram/m3 or more of particulate matter each day was associated with a 48 per cent higher chance of self-harming later in life, compared to children exposed to an average of 13 microgram/m3 per day or less. And for every 5 microgram/m3 increase in exposure above 19 microgram/m3, the risk of self harm rose by 42 per cent. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: pollution, kids, exposure, pollution, self-harm, development
Sorry and please are often described as 'magic' words simply because of the inherent power they possess to transform situations -- be it placating the recipient, strengthening a bond, or managing relationships. Effective communication emphatically talks about its frequent but genuine use to establish rapport apart from being polite and respectful. In that, 'sorry' holds a special significance for children as they navigate through their growing up years.
We often define these growing-up years as work in progress as children work out cause and effect, and understand that relationship management can be 'tricky' business. During these formative years, children deal with their family, school teachers, or friends and for that matter, even strangers. Perspectives, opinions, and misunderstandings pepper these years as a child matures and embraces social skills. Experience over a period of time is what enables children to regulate their emotions. Dangers of 'damage', a natural consequence of some of these misunderstood situations, can be mitigated if children are encouraged to make amends and move on.
The early years are dominated by the child's need to put himself/herself at the centre of every situation, often not realising that in doing so (this is a developmental milestone and will ease into maturity eventually), they could 'hurt' someone. And their need to resist apologising for their actions could largely be attributed to the fact that they are unable to fathom its severity and impact. For children, they are simply reacting and not intending to 'hurt' someone in a quest to protect themselves. They consider this an act of normalcy -- like snatching a toy that belongs to them, or pushing another child to get ahead, or jumping the line or speaking out of turn. Remember, their world is about them and hence it is important to educate children about feelings, appropriate behaviour, and how to build relationships.
Sorry and please are often described as 'magic' words - Pixabay pixabay.com
As children 'age', the primary years become grounds for more experiences, and children naturally evolve into being more aware of the consequences of their acts. And through regular communication by watching adults around them, they tend to use the word more often to 'mend' the situation. As social creatures, and quick to please, they recognise the need to 'adapt' and 'mould' themselves as per norms that are likely to receive praise or acknowledgement. In middle and high school years, the level of understanding about social interactions is purely the result of exposure and conditioning over the years, and therefore children ease into managing these relationships much better.
The key always remains the foundation, and the start, and consistent communication over the years with timely intervention to help students become the polite, sensitive, aware, and amicable adults we all aspire them to be. This requires efforts on part of those nurturing these students in school and at home as the 'seniors' who lead the way.
Fatema Agarkar, Educationist and Founder of ACE Some quick tips:
Role-model behaviour: Children are silent observers of everything they see around them, and the best way for them to 'learn' how to manage relationships and use the word sorry, is if they see enough examples of adults apologising. For example, in a fit of anger, if an adult has spoken rudely to the house help or a teacher to a fellow teacher, by apologising in public and explaining the rationale to the little ones, children understand the concept of a mistake, and that mistakes can be rectified through acts or actions in a way that builds a stronger bond. Hence, the importance of public display is critical for children to know that they can adopt a similar approach when faced with a similar situation.
Children are silent observers of everything they see around them. Photo by CDC on Unsplash
Cinema: Watching films that convey this message (lots of children films are about this) together with your children, and discussions after about what they understood and how the relationships became stronger because of the apologies is also a great way to communicate in a non-threatening way to the children. Often well-meaning adults tend to 'lecture' and children tune off given the plethora of instructions theyreceive daily, and these audio-visuals serve as an effective reminder of protocols to be adopted. Discussions post the film are important communication channels because it helps point out 'facts' that are important for them to know.
Watching films that convey a message together with your children is also a great way to communicate in a non-threatening way to the children. Pixabay
Books: Cannot emphasise how crucial this component is at any age -- great tools for expressing and role-modelling appropriate behaviour for children, and post a book reading, getting them to relate to situations that they have encountered is also a way to help them self-analyse.
Books are a great tool for expressing and role-modelling appropriate behaviour for children. Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
Journals: Encourage children to 'write' about difficult situations, and how they reacted to it, and what were some of the consequences if they had said 'sorry' instead of furthering the problem! Reflection as a tool and exercise, especially in primary years, helps children 'think' back and analyse their choices. A true learning milestone if we have to raise well-balanced children. Children do tend to 'forget' things, and unless they think about writing them down, and discussing it with their parents, they will never learn the art of reflection. The adults again can guide, and mentor (without judgement) and ease the children into making amends by apologising. This forms a dialogue with them.
Encourage children to 'write' about difficult situations, and how they reacted to it, and what were some of the consequences if they had said 'sorry' instead of furthering the problem! Photo by Jerry Wang on Unsplash
Social media: There are lots of positive quotes, stories, and images on social media about relationships. Encourage children by sharing this with them especially how someone dealt with a particular situation and overcame it. It is motivational, positive, and gets them to think about 'solving' problems and for that matter, 'accepting' that everyone has them!
Encourage children by sharing positivity with them especially how someone dealt with a particular situation and overcame it. Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash
Rewards: Rewards do not have to be materialistic, but do use this liberally as words. Acknowledge, and praise when the children are using appropriate behaviour and mending ties! This is perhaps the most underutilised of all communication strategies -- as adults, the praise is reserved for performance academically or in co-curricular, and it is time, this gets incorporated for behaviour and skills that build relationships. Write your child an email, a letter, or create a card and let them know how proud you are of them.
Write your child an email, a letter, or create a card and let them know how proud you are of them. Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash
Beyond 'sorry', the crux of communication and mentoring students remains focused on building relationships. For that, the children need to accept that mistakes happen, and these mistakes can lead to feelings of anger, aggression, or trauma for those at the receiving end. But that these are the moments that can be salvaged, and lead to better experiences and closer bonds. Sometimes demonstrating this to them, standing by their side as they attempt to, or pointing it out to them when they have not noticed will go a long way in creating happier children!
(Article originally written by: N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: sorry, kids, books, movies, letter, reward, journal, apology