By Pankaj Kumar Singh
In a fast-moving world, preparing your body and mind to have kids is a complex process. While the physical process is a different chapter in itself, mental preparation is a critical one, as once the kids start growing up, the emotional and mental health of kids becomes a concern. From the very first day, till the age of five, it’s a complex process that calls for extra care in order to make it a healthy and memorable childhood. Good mental health allows children to think clearly, develop socially and learn new skills. Additionally, good friends and encouraging words from adults are all important for helping children develop self-confidence, high self-esteem and a healthy emotional outlook on life.
During the early age (0-5 years), there are many ways to promote emotional health to prevent emotional disturbances and to treat mental health problems before they become severe later in life. Here are a few things that can be of concern and needs your due attention as a parent during the growing age of your child.
Ages 0 – 1
This age is very fragile and calls for extra care. It is important to hold your newborn skin-to-skin and be sure to speak and sing to him often. By four months, they start smiling and respond to people and may even try to copy others’ expressions. Encourage them to be active and be a part of the process. By six to nine months, most babies recognise familiar faces. They love playing with their parents and may become clingy around strangers. By age one, they start responding to others’ emotions, and it is important for parents to be a part of them and encourage emotional connection.
Ages 1 – 3
As they turn one, they start exhibiting emotional tantrums and it becomes critical for parents to balance it with their attention and love. As a parent, you need to empathise and validate feelings and teach your child words to help express themselves. According to experts, the child’s tantrums can be stressful for you, so it is important to acknowledge their feelings, step away for a moment, letting your child know he can come to you when he is ready. This gives you both a chance to calm down, teaches kids that it is okay to express strong feelings and shows you are available if he/she needs you.
Ages 4 – 5
As they turn four, most kids start talking about what they like (and don’t), enjoy trying new things, can play cooperatively, may imitate and/or want to be like friends and can follow rules. It is the time when you as a parent need to balance it out and prepare him/her for being positive and open to new relationships as he/she enters kindergarten, which helps them succeed. As a parent, you need to help him/her manage behavior by setting clear, consistent boundaries and rules and stating your expectations of him. The best remedy is to give hugs, it’s magical!
It has been found that when mental health concerns are identified early, it is easy to track them and redirect system as this would involve a consultant with mental health experts such as a child psychologist or child psychiatrist working collaboratively with programmes such as preschools and daycare centres and help kids recover from all sorts of issues and insecurities. It is important to get involved in an early childhood mental health consultation.
(The writer is Managing Director, Cambridge Montessori Pre Schools, Jalsa Ventures)
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