Protecting children from anxiety and depression
She believed she could fix herself!
Labelling children with a mental health disorder appears to be way too easy today!
Some children need professional support. However, in today’s world it seems like many others are influenced to go down this path unnecessarily.
For example, a girl (who I know well) told me that a health professional she recently visited suggested that she was depressed. However, she refused to believe that! Therefore, she declined their recommendation of treatment and course of prescription medication.
In just two short months, she has gone from being demotivated and thinking there was something wrong with her, to being energised and happy within herself.
We all have bad moments, worries, and concerns, but we don’t give in and accept defeat, because we’ve learned that things will get better if we stay positive!
What did she do?
Firstly, she made up her own mind rather than being influenced by another. Then she decided that she wouldn’t allow her own destructive inner voice to stifle her. Finally, she began to fight back with opposing positive ideas.
Protecting children from anxiety and depression is partly about teaching them how to recognise and manage their own thoughts and emotions!
Self-esteem is key too!
There is a lot of evidence that proves that low-esteem in childhood can lead to unemployment, obesity, and mental health issues in adulthood. Developing high self-esteem is one of the very best ways to protect children from anxiety and depression and safeguard their future.
Are we a part of the problem?
Before taking action to help our child we should have a good look at ourselves. We need to recognise that we are one of the most important influencers in our child’s life, therefore we need to open our minds to the idea that we may be a part of the problem. It is possible that, unknowingly, our words, actions, or behaviour could be negatively affecting our child’s state of mind.
We must think back to the tough moments in our relationship and determine if we have used language that could be damaging our child’s self-worth. For example, a single harmful criticism like, “you’re a stupid boy”, when expressed during a heated moment can have a long-lasting destructive impact.
If it’s not us, then who is it?
Ok, so we’ve looked at ourselves and we can honestly say it’s not us! If we’re not the cause, then it must be someone else, or worse, more than one other person.
We all know how important it is to surround ourselves with supportive people, those who make us feel good about ourselves. Children are more vulnerable to the influences of others, especially significant others, like family and authority figures.
In cases like this, our job is to carefully draw out from them what they have begun to believe about themselves and start to help them instil alternative positive patterns of thought.
Our objective is to help them change their mind!
Helping children to replace negative thought patterns with positive alternatives requires work. It won’t happen overnight, but it can be done!
Explore the idea that each child’s mind is a blank canvas in the beginning. From that moment onward everything they experience is printed on their mind and, over time, good or bad self-beliefs are formed. The more we reinforce our beliefs the stronger they become. Therefore changing negative beliefs with positive ones is easier in children because their beliefs haven’t yet become too deeply ingrained!
The belief effect!
Self-beliefs are the driving force behind our behaviour. In other words, we must behave in a way that matches our beliefs, positive or negative!
Here’s an example: A friend invites you to a party. You go and have a great time. Some months later, that same friend invites you to another party. Your attitude about the party is positive. You’re interested in the party and you’re motivated to go, because you had a great experience at the last party and you believe you’ll have a good time again. Therefore, you go to the party and behave positively.
In contrast, consider how you would behave if you went to the party believing that you weren’t going to enjoy it!
Building positive self-beliefs improves self-esteem.
Protecting children from anxiety and depression is about helping them learn how to manage their thoughts and feelings. It’s also about helping them to develop constructive self-beliefs and raise their self-esteem.
The more they get to know their own thoughts and feelings the better equipped they’ll be to differentiate between the beliefs that are holding them back and those that are helping them advance.
The ability to develop self-understanding and strength of mind is one of the greatest gifts we can pass on to our children.
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