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!!