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Build psychological safety in your child

Mental health is indeed the hottest topic breaking the internet. The gult of mental health conditions and suicides has adversely affected our society. The rules of living have changed faster than any other time in my living memory, and so must the solutions to cope with it.

There is a lot of help available for working-class people (mostly their employers pay for it) or for older citizens (their health plans or the government may pay for it. But what about your tweens and teens?

I have questions for all the parents:

  • How many of you think that your children are mentally productive?

  • Okay, Are you sure your child is psychologically safe?

  • When was the last time you asked your teen if they mentally doing okay?

As a teenager, when I look at my parents they want me to be physically healthy. Personally speaking, following an adequate healthy lifestyle strengthens physical health, and plays a vital role in one's growth. Although just physical well-being is not enough for development. Mental well-being plays the most crucial role in a child’s life. At this point, as a 17-year-old teenager, I feel, this is the time in life where

  • I am getting to know myself,

  • building an identity,

  • Defining a character (values and vices) for myself, and knowing what my flaws are.

At this very age, I am learning how to deal with real-life problems and real-time challenges. These indeed are important pillars in my life or for that matter any other tween or teenager's life. What plays a crucial role is the kind of psychological environment a child has been through, in their early years. Keeping this in mind, it is very important for me (or any other child) to feel psychologically safe.

Now, what do I mean by making a child feel psychologically safe?

Being psychologically safe means being able to show and employ their self-identity without fearing the negative consequences of humiliation and punishment. In other words, a child should be able to express their opinions, views, and thoughts without fearing that they would be humiliated, bullied, punished, or judged. A teen should be open to learning and experiencing things, without which creating a self-identity is nearly impossible. As a teen, i would ask you to not judge me but try to listen and understand me.

Why exactly is a psychologically safe environment important for me?

Unfortunately, it is not well-understood how parental relationships with their children impact the child’s development during the very early years of their lives. Now looking at it from a psychological viewpoint, the kind of relationship parents hold with their children, affects their development. H. Hartmann, a chemist, speculated the family theory, which focuses on the dynamic interaction amongst family members describing changes in typical patterns of parent-child relationships, and the characteristics of family interactions that enhance or disrupt development

In my case, my parents understand me and I feel heard. My thoughts and opinions matter to them. They have not set any benchmark for me to be like. They respect my persona, dreams, and my decisions to establish my own identity. This builds confidence in me. I am proud to be the person I am today. I can’t thank my parents for such intense support, love and the environment they designed for me. There was a time when I used to feel, that expressing myself publicly would make everyone judge me. I used to even hide in my car because I was scared that I would say something wrong that people could mind or make fun of. That's when my father spoke to me about it, he told me that no matter what opinions I have, and what decisions I make, he is always going to support me. He said, no matter how wrong I am, I am going to learn from my mistakes. We, humans, are made up of flaws and there is no shame about it, I shouldn't be afraid of expressing myself. He made me believe that I am a beautiful soul, open to learning and growing from my own mistakes. And today when I look back, I realize that without my dad, I wouldn't have been the person I am today.

Every person can agree that their lives are embedded with personal experiences, and the learnings made them what they are today, likewise, the kind of situations experienced by a child or a teenager in their early years can affect them. Children are born without knowing anything about the world, there is an irony that states that infants are born with an innate psychological safe environment that allows them to express themselves, like being curious or eager to learn.

They learn everything about life from the relationships they have from the very start. The most important relationship for any child is the one that they hold with their parents, therefore every parent needs to have a healthy relationship with their children.

Sadly, most parents fail to help their children build a personality and character for themselves. Sometimes as parents you might see your children the way you see yourself. Even loving parents often provide traumas if they idealize their child way too much. No matter how much love and affection a parent might have, according to research, nearly 80 percent of parents see their children as a version of what they are, some parents even treat their children the way they were treated during their childhood. Parenting is not taught in any high school, so many parents try to bring up their kids as they have been brought up, pushing down archaic practices which harm the child’s potential.

The truth is, that fearfulness governs one's life, and it leads one to form “protective strategies” to reduce threats that try to affect one's mental well-being, sometimes these “strategies” become the real threat to one's mental health.

OMG! I am a parent, any tips for me to handle my teen? Here is your TL;DR

  • Sometimes we teen go through much more than what we show, try to listen to your teen, and make them feel that you understand

  • Make sure they know they are not just physically but psychologically safe with you too.

  • Don't judge them, tell them it's okay, talk to them, and hear their perspective

With this, I hope I have been able to convey my message to you

Sumati Grover

Content writer


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