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Friday, February 28, 2020

Kids’ mental and physical health: Why the right environment matters

Family has an important influence on the child's mental and physical development.

Published: February 9, 2020 2:06:02 pm
parenting tips, child mental health A parent must focus on cultivating the right mental and physical health. (Source: Getty Images)

By Karishmma V Mangal

Whether you work full-time, or few hours a week, childcare is an important commitment as a parent. Nothing matters more than ensuring your child is in a safe, caring and stimulating environment. Also, as a parent, when you sow the seeds of empathy, compassion and care early in the life of your child, they’re likely to be happier and successful when they grow up.

Most parents make the right choices while supporting their child. A good caregiver thinks and identifies beyond basic needs. A parent must focus on cultivating the right mental and physical health. A child’s early home environment has a significant role on their development. Brain imaging research suggests that growing up in a disadvantaged environment causes the child’s brain to develop differently.

Factors affecting child development

Physical environment: The effect of physical environment on a child’s development cannot be understated. If they are raised in an environment that is affected by chaos and filled with aggression, changes in the brain’s stress system can occur which can further lead to vulnerability to chronic diseases later in life.

Family bonding: Family has an important influence on the child’s mental and physical development. It is important to provide an environment that addresses their mental, physical and emotional needs. Parents should make it a habit to spend few hours a day with their child in the form of reading a book, watching a cartoon or playing a sport. This helps in developing motor skills and team spirit.

Health and nutrition: Nutritious food is a basic need of a child’s physical health. As a parent, it is your duty to inculcate healthy eating habits in them. Excessive eating can lead to a host of complications in the future.

Learning: Few parents have this belief that learning is only meant for school. Remember, more than school, your home environment stimulates your child’s mental health. Provide your child with a loving home where they can develop cognitive, motor and emotional skills.

Read| Mental health issues are real, even for toddlers

Basics for a child’s physical health

· Nutritious food

· Adequate exercise

· Healthy living environment

Basics for a child’s mental health

· Unconditional love from parents – love and acceptance should be at the heart of family life.

· Safe and secure surroundings – encourage them to thrive in an atmosphere that will promote their physical, social, mental and emotional well-being.

· Self-confidence and self-esteem – If they make mistakes, forgive them. Unconditional love, affection and support will boost their confidence.

Importance of adequate playtime

In recent years, it’s no big secret that playtime has decreased tremendously. Instead of going out and playing, kids spend time in front of their iPad screens. As a parent, you must encourage them to go out and engage in physical activities. To nurture relationships with your little ones, playtime is important. Here’s how:

· When you make time to play with your child you re-establish a bond that began at infancy.

· Colouring with your child or playing a board game with them is a great opportunity to spend time together.

· Parent-child relationships also help the latter to improve their social interaction skills.

Remember, the goal of building a safe environment is to teach your child self-control. As a parent, it is important for you to know the warning signs of poor physical and mental health in your child:

· Decline in school performance

· Regular anxiety

· Aggression

· Temper tantrums

· Depression, sadness and irritability

Here are a few tips to keep your child fit mentally and physically:

· Develop caring and loving relationships with your kids.

· Provide opportunities for children to practice care and attitude.

· Be a strong role model and mentor to them.

· Create a safe and positive home environment.

· Praise them when they do well.

Exposing your child to the right kind of environment will have a direct impact on their behaviour, learning and personality.

(The writer is Director and Trustee, Thakur International School – Cambridge.)

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