Investing in Children’s Emotional Well-being
LifeLessons4Kids – Roisin Bullock, Certified Wisdom Coach ™
With good mental health, children and young people do better in every part of their lives. They enjoy their childhood, are able to deal with difficult times and the ups and downs of growing up, are able to learn better, do better at school, enjoy positive friendships and have strong self-esteem. Childhood and teenage years are the time when mental health is developed and patterns are set for the future. A child with good mental health is much more likely to have good mental health as an adult, and be successful in life and fulfil their full potential.
Sadly, the society we now live in can be bad news for the mental health of our children. Children feel more and more pressure to have money, the perfect body and lifestyle; body image is a source of much distress for many young people. Sexual pressures and early sexualisation can throw children into an adult world that they do not understand. Bullying on and off-line is rife and lifestyle changes mean that children often are less likely to undertake the very things that can support good mental health, such as regular exercise, good sleep patterns and a healthy diet. In addition, children feel increasingly under pressure from testing and assessments in schools, which can lower self-esteem and prevent children from enjoying the process of learning.
Statistics show that three children in every classroom have a diagnosable mental health disorder (and that’s just the ones that have been diagnosed). Many thousands of children and young people feel isolated, unhappy, have eating disorders and self-harm. Many are likely to become victims of crime, alcohol or drug abuse. There is still also a huge stigma around mental health which means children and young people are not getting the help and support that they need. Investment is not being made in the vital services which support positive mental health for children and young people. Teachers are struggling to cope with the demands of teaching larger classes, with a wide range of needs and on top of this, constant assessments and are expected to manage children with all sorts of emotional issues, often without adequate resources or support.
Mental health problems, if left unmanaged, can lead to young people being disruptive, difficult, withdrawn and disturbed and it is vital that these children are supported and not just ignored or constantly told off.
Mental health affects all aspects of a child’s development including their cognitive abilities, social skills and their general emotional well-being. Building emotional resilience is key to developing children and early intervention is vital.
If you have ever taken a personal development course or read a book on leadership, you may have wondered why it is that personal development and leadership training is geared towards adults, when the core beliefs which shape our lives, are developed during the childhood years? The most important investment we will ever make in our children’s lives is investing in their mind-set, their emotional wellbeing; this is the very thing that may shape who they become and what they can achieve in their lives. I remember too well how I struggled with emotions as a child, and how I could have benefited from this kind of support and help, as opposed to learning these key life skills later in life as an adult.
I have also seen first-hand as a parent, tutor and children’s coach, how much emotions can have an impact on children’s self-belief and overall happiness. This can make a huge difference in all areas of their life including achievements at school and in sport. Academic achievement is seen as the top priority for children today. I believe that emotional intelligence, self-leadership, problem solving and resilience are at the core of unlocking children’s potential. If they believe that they can then they will!
Emotional Intelligence is a set of skills that children are not born with. They are skills that need to be taught and developed, just like academic skills such as maths and English. If children are taught these vital skills at a young age, then they are better equipped to deal with the ups and downs of growing up and can go out into the world as positive, caring and emotionally intelligent individuals. Children today are the future of our country- our future doctors, teachers, nurses, engineers, politicians, scientists and sport personalities. The key to unlocking this future is to teach them to believe in themselves and those around them. If we were to invest in this, what a positive impact this would have on society and the world!