It is Time to Check Your Child’s Mental Health


A Kashmiri child aims his sligshot at paramilitary men in Srinagar- File photo

Syed Tajamul Hussain

CHILD is one of the most vulnerable member of society and is often seen with a behaviour that looks odd and mysterious. Everyone, especiallyparents,find it hard to explain the behaviours of children which are characterised by mood swings, emotional breakdowns, tantrums, hyper activity or solitary behaviour. All these behavioural setups are categorised under the rubric of the mental health of children which a layman might overlook.

For child psychology experts, the capacity to achieve and maintain optimal psychological functioning and wellbeing is referred to as a healthy state of child’s mental health. “How can such health be maintained?” and “What determines mental or behavioural disorders in the blooming buds?” are some of the crucial and curious questions often asked by parents.

Like physical health, a child also needs a sound mental atmosphere to stay fit and energetic in life. Children who are mentally healthy, live a good quality of life and can function well at home, in school and in their communities. It is only by virtue of good mental health that children can develop the resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and can grow into well- rounded healthy adults.

On the other hand, within a disturbing and unhealthy home atmosphere, the script of the story is altogether different and detrimental.A child is prone to develop mental disorders in an unconducive, disturbed and violent environment at home, school or in the society in general. Mental health problems affect 1 in 10 children and young people.

These mental health issues cause serious changes in the way children typically learn, behave or handle their emotions. Many children have fears and worries and may feel hopeless and dejected from time to time. Having been mentally disturbed, children become susceptible to disruptive behaviours and might often sink in thoughts. They may develop extreme forms of fear and sadness which may culminate into anxiety issues or even depression. These issues, if unaddressed, have the potential to cause personality disorders in children as well.

Being occasionally sad is a part of every child’s life but what should bell an alarm is if such moods are frequent. To identify whether a child has a sound or disturbed mental system is not easy. One needs to read the behaviour of children very closely, in order to deduce the situation and rush to seek mental health assistance, if need be.

Some common traits shown by a child who may be struggling mentally are, being unusually unhappy and irritable. If they’resaying negative things about themselves, it can also indicate some issues. Even excessive daydreaming should be monitored carefully to make the right call about ones child’s mental health.

In addition to this, parents have to ensure that children are not exposed to factors that affect their mental health. Domestic Violence has been seen as the greatest cause that can impede normal life of children thereby making them prone to mental health issues. Children who witness domestic violence or are victims of abuse themselves are more vulnerable. They are also at a greater risk of being violent in their future relationship themselves; thereby continuing the cycle of trauma.

Another factor that affects a child’s mental health is negligence. Neglecting a child may have negative effects on a child. Children who are neglected can struggle with issues of low self-esteem which could later lead to high risk behaviours. When a child is not getting love and attention, the pessimistic world surrounds the victim like a barbed wires.

Additionally, a child is very tempted to be a part of social life and learns many virtues and loopholes from it. So, the nature of society in which a child breathes is also a factor that leaves a mark on their mental hygiene. A child who grows in a society that is marred by political violence or inequalities can develop serious mental health issues especially if they’re at the receiving end of it. PTSD is an unfortunate condition that a child develops under these circumstances.

Yet another factor that has affected everyone especially children is over reliance on technology. Although technology has added spices of comfort and innovation in our lives but mishandling it will bring somewhat undesirable results which might be hard to control. Violent online games like PUBG have had a catastrophic impact on children’s mental health. Unhealthy use of social media and pornographic content will also seriously tamper with their social skills and their ideas of healthy relationships.

Many of our children might already have shown many of these behavioural patterns. However, the good news is that mental disorders of children are treatable. Some promising ways include a healthy parenting process. Parenting is the process that prepares a child for independence. For very young children, involving parents in treatment is the key. According to the “Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology”, the medicine to treat disruptive behavioural problems in children is the parent behaviour therapy.

Additionally, children need care and appreciation. This will make them feel loved, trusted, understood, valued and safe.

Yet another factor to control is the content that kids consume. Give them access to safe content only. Be aware about your child’s media use. This must include monitoring content as well as the screen time. One must also keep a keen watch on who they might be interacting with on social media and online games.

Now, more than ever, because of prolonged lockdowns and conflict, children need our time and attention. Our main focus during the pandemic must also be mental health. Children by virtue of being inexperienced, need to be constantly guided towards a healthy outlook. This makes it extremely important to have an “all hands on desk” approach as far as their mental health is concerned.

  • Syed Tajamul Hussain hails from Drabgam Pulwama and can be mailed at [email protected]

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