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Let’s Learn how to Raise a Psychologically Healthy Child

Interaction

More than any nutritious food or any kind of formal education, interacting with your child in a meaningful way will contribute to his healthy psychological development. Try to stay away from your phone, work, worries and other distractions when you are with them. You don’t have to do it all day along, but try to provide at least few hours of undivided attention. Be curious about your child, their emotions, what they like and what they don’t and their fears and pleasures. Remember aim of the interaction is not to boost your ego but the ego of your child. So, don’t force them to sing songs, dance to those ridiculous Bollywood music or recite nursery rhymes. Do whatever they like and be curious to know what they want. Then the child will develop an interest to interact with you and will be looking forward to see you again. Playing a game together is also a good way to interact. Remember to enjoy whatever you are doing with them and don’t treat it as another tedious daily task. Rather, treat it as a golden opportunity to enter the secret world of children and try to enjoy every moment.

Unconditional positive regard

Don’t always consider your child as someone who has to be corrected or disciplined. Don’t think it's your duty to raise a perfect child. That judgmental approach will be sensed by the child and it will reduce his self esteem and he will live trying hard to satisfy you. It will affect his self image as an adult. Therefore, stop worrying about what the world would think other external standards. Remember your child is unique and your duty is to love him or her whole heartedly despite his weaknesses. Don’t try to mold them to any perfect model. When you do that child will see you as a warm, non-judgmental parent he can trust. So, he or she won’t be scared to disclose everything they are going through when they grow up and you will be their guiding post. As a parent, what else would you need apart from that blissful experience?

Don’t constantly correct or provide too much help 

Making mistakes and learning from them are very important for the development of the child. Most parents try to provide their kids to an error-free life by helping them too early or attempt to correct every single perceived defect. This can be harmful in several ways. It hinders self learning, takes away the ownership of his work and reduces his motivation. Failure and negative experiences associated with it are very important for their resilience and complete development. So learn to step back and watch them make mistakes and resist that urge to correct them.

Never use fear to motivate them

Many parents use fear to control behavior of their children. They might say things like 'you will be weak if you don’t eat’, ‘eat fruit or you will fall ill’, or even phrases like ‘if you don’t study you will be jobless one day’. When the child is motivated by fear he will lose the real value of pursuing a goal. Even when he is grown up, he will work to avoid blame or criticism. This will not only affect his self esteem, it will prevent him doing new things or being fully productive. So, although fear will give you immediate results, it can cause long term negative consequences. Therefore use positive motivators to direct them.

Listen to them

Be attentive when they try to communicate. Mindful listening is an important skill everyone should try to develop . Try to suppress that urge to correct what they say or teach them new words all the time. Good eye contact, relaxed attitude and the relevant emotional responses are important communication skills you could use.

When they cry, respond wisely don't try to console them immediately

True, crying is the way children communicate their needs and it’s important that parents learn to respond to it. However, some parents are more motivated to stop their crying rather than respond to the reason of crying. Some even would go the extent of telling them that crying is sign of weakness. When that happens, child will feel invalidated and neglected. So, when they cry don’t be in a hurry to console them, but patiently explore why they cry and respond to that reason.

Be patient with your child

It's true, in a busy world where life is a race against the clock, parenting could be challenging. You might need your child to brush their teeth faster, put on those socks quickly and finish their meal before it gets too cold. However children do not have that sense of time and your definitions of efficiency do not apply in their world. In fact pressurizing them too much to adhere to a certain time limit not only stress them out, it will also ruin a golden opportunity to have a meaningful interaction with your child. So try to adjust your schedule so you can leisurely work with your child. By doing that you will be able to slowly improve their efficiency.

Don’t always be their cheerleader

While you have to appreciate your child and encourage him to achieve great things in life, don’t consider it's your duty to be a cheerleader and applaud their every single achievement. We often see parents praise kids too much and constantly tell them that they’re the best, most beautiful and most talented individuals. Their hope is that it will improve their self esteem and encourage them to achieve more. While doing this is better than criticizing them and disregarding their achievements doing it too much too have different negative consequences. When someone is constantly cheering, there is pressure to perform and fear of being judged if under-performed. It can affect your relationship with the child and the development of their full self. Some believe that children grown up this way will have issues with self direction since they need a lot of external stimulation to function. So encourage them all the time, but don’t excessively praise them.

Consistency

It is important that the entire family agrees on how they work with the child. That kind of consistency is important for the child to feel safe. If you change your stance too frequently, child will find it hard to read you or guess what you want. So he will try to push boundaries in order to get what he wants. Whereas when you are consistent, it will provide a constant predictable structure to their lives so it is easy to discipline them. Finally, it's important to remember that when a child is exhibiting a difficult behavior, it's not always his fault. Sometimes a child's behavior reflects a problem in the family. So pay close attention to your interactions with your spouse since children usually observe parental behavior and try to mimic them.

Also despite being a very helpful parent by adopting above mentioned skills if your child still shows difficult behavior, remember to seek professional help. Now there are child mental health clinics run by consultant psychiatrists in every major governments hospital.

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