Mentally Healthy Conversations: Engaging Children

As vital as mental health is to wellbeing, lots of people still downplay the significance of promoting mental health. There is no aspect of our life and livelihood that is not directly or indirectly related to mental health.

An individual’s mental health is highly dependent on his/her ability to make use of resources available towards the realization of personal and organizational goals; being able to work productively, and in harmony with people around.

Towards optimizing the quality of interpersonal relationships, we all need to learn the art of having mentally healthy conversations. More importantly, we need to focus on enhancing the quality of the conversations we have with our children.

A mentally healthy conversation is an exchange of news and ideas between two or more people in which the goals of the mutual interaction(s) include mental health promotion. Mental health promotion involves actions that improve psychological well-being. It entails creating an environment that supports mental health. The environment must respect and protect basic rights (which include civil rights).

As we celebrate this year’s Children’s day, let us ponder on our relationship with our children. Do you engage the children around you in mentally healthy conversations? The words you speak to a child tend to linger on in their mind for decades. I am in my mid-40s, and I still remember some words spoken to me when I was a child learning to dress myself. I clearly remember my Mum always challenging me for buttoning up my shirt to the last button, tightening the collar of the shirt around my neckline. (I doubt if she still remembers this) I can recollect this and many more memories from my childhood. These memories, with their foundations laid in conversations, have indeed defined who I am now.

I know the value of the seeds that can be sown in the heart and mentality of someone through conversations. How I wish all parents and persons who have charge over our young ones will cultivate the culture of always engaging these ones in mentally healthy conversations. No one is born with the skill of having mentally healthy conversations. We all need to consciously learn the art.

In conversations, we share ideas or information. When we share ideas that stir up negative emotions like sadness, anger, psychic pain, negative thoughts, poor self-concept, or other negative vibes in a conversation, then the conversation is not a healthy one. Children are highly sensitive to spoken words. When you share ideas or information that stir up positive emotions like happiness, positive thoughts, hope, increased self-worth, or other positive vibes, we are indeed having a mentally healthy conversation.

How do you know if you just finished having a mentally healthy conversation with your child?

  • How did you feel after the conversation- Calm, anxious, angry, hopeful, positive? Your inner thoughts or gut feeling after you have just engaged your child is the best mind-ometer for gauging if your conversation was mutually healthy.
  • What was the response of the child- thankful, sorry, sadness, confusion, anxiety, pain/anguish? The emotional response of the child is a valid indicator of how healthy the conversation had been.
  • Are you eager to engage the child again? Or are you feeling reluctant, discouraged, or encouraged to have another conversation with the child?

Know that negative words, hurtful words to a child is probably more damaging, with a longer-lasting/residual effect than corporal punishment.   The goal of your conversation with children should be for them to be better, stronger, and more emotionally stable. You can’t build strong, emotionally stable children by tearing down their self-esteem or denting their emotions with unhealthy conversations.

Happy Children’s day!

Stay safe and sane; help others do the same!!

 

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Ola Ibigbami

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20 Responses

  1. This write up is so amazing at it would safeguard we youth of nowadays. The transition from childhood to parenthood requires a lot of skills and sacrifices. All is not about money. Thanks for the enlightenment sir.

  2. Quite illuminating piece , especially the fact that we should sit back and evaluate the effect of our conversation on the psyche of the children. Also be willing to re-engage with the child if there were unintended, untoward outcomes and ameliorate them as much as we can.

  3. Apt! The failure of our system starts from failures from the home fronts. There also is where the healing conversations should start.

  4. This is so mindful. This remind us as parents or guidance to engage our wards in a meaningful words so that we will have a better days ahead.

  5. Thanks my Boss for this inspiring and educative words of yours. I pray Parents will emulate it , put in practice so as to help to build a child with good self esteem and disciplined children. They are the Great Future Leaders. We need to groom our Children psyche for them to overcome this stress laden situation of our country.
    Wishing all the children world wide
    Happy Children ‘s Day…

  6. Thank you for this sir, This explains the reason why many people grow up to become timid and excessively neurotic-Childhood Conversations.Thank you Sir.

  7. This is so thoughtful of you in a time like this. Many parents are hurt and they unleash the hurts on the children; transferred aggression you call that? Some parents treat their children the same way they were taught by possibly illiterate parents who do not understand the worth of self esteem. The situation in the country is so tense, many children pay for being “children” in a time like this. However, parents need to weigh their actions because of these children’s future. Thank you sir.

  8. Thank God for your thoughtfulness on a matter like this in a time like this. Many parents are hurt and they unleash the hurts on their children; transferred aggression you call that? Many parents want to train their children the same way they were taught by possibly illiterate parents who do not understand the worth of self esteem. Some parents find the situation in Nigeria so tense and they cannot but find a way to let out the anger on someone and the children are their “easy” and “handy” targets. Is it the fault of these children to be “children” in a time like this? Parents must learn and understand that the future of these children must be paramount no matter what is happening around us

  9. Thanks for this inspiring article sir. I can really relate to the “conversations with mom” when I was younger too and this shows how important it is to have mentally stimulating conversations with children as it will affect their personalities in the future. God bless you sir and grants you more wisdom continue to dish out more gems like this.

  10. Hmm, may God help all parents, teachers and children caregivers, most of the times we allow our feelings and our mouths run ahead of our hearts or thoughts, and that is why we sometimes speak unwholesome words to our wards and Children, because of the pressure of what we are feeling or what they have done.
    If we can pause and think through before speaking,and also subject our beings to God, through the help of God and the Holy Spirit, our words will become more edifying, because out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.
    Once again, we need the help of God.

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