Mother’s role in child mental health
MARCH 8 is a day to celebrate the International Women's Day. 2018 international women's day commemoration day has come and gone but the importance of this day will remain throughout the year. I hope you have in your various locations carried out activities to observe this important day. In this article, I discuss the role of parents and especially mothers in promoting sound child mental health. First and foremost, raising children is a responsibility of both parents, mothers and fathers and the community at large. In the spirit of celebrating International Women's days, I will focus on the role of women/mothers in promoting sound mental health of children.
This does not mean that the role of fathers is not important, in fact I will talk about father's roles in the next issue. The origins of many mental health problems lie in childhood and so good enough mothering is important. As mothers, understanding sound mental health on children is a key challenge. Understanding what puts a child at risk of developing mental-health problems later in life is crucial if mothers are to take steps to stop that happening. All mothers need to be aware of various mental health challenges that may affect their children by attending mental health first aid trainings.
The proverb that good beginnings are key to success means a lot in developing sound child mental health. The first years of life are very important for the development of every child. Parents can make a huge difference to children's early life pathways, for better or for worse if they take child mental health development seriously. It is important to know that childhood mental health problems can have lasting effects on children's future adult lives. Mothers and fathers need to provide quality care for their children. In fact, an increasing number of studies indicate that the first signs of behaviour and mental health problems appear as early as infancy, toddlerhood and teenage, but many mothers miss this. They wait until the situation is worse then they seek for help. Also, bad mothering can trigger and cause children to develop various mental health issues, thus, mothers need parenting training. For example, children can have depression, post-trauma, suicide ideation and anxiety because of bad parenting and ill-treatment. In all this, mother parenting is considered a key factor in development of early child mental health problems since many mothers are primary caregivers has demonstrated the importance of the mother-child relationship to children's emotional development. Mothers who neglect their children's mental health development are not doing a good service to their children.
The following are hints for mothers to assist promote sound mental health
of their children
◆ Identify the early signs of behaviour problems and risk factors as parents e.g. when a child is lying a lot, fights with others etc. then you know you need to act. Mother–child relationships is very important you need to spend some time with children and connect with your children where ever possible.
◆ Have early intervention strategy for problematic child behaviour problems, do not defend your child's wrong doings instead seek help for the child.
◆ Acquire parenting skills through parenting training to manage children's behaviours. Aim to prevent emotional and behavioural problems in children aged 0–16 by building relationship with your children and confidence. If need be seek parent-child psychotherapy if you have any challenges. Do not wait until the situation is worse and maybe the child is having problems at school or college.
◆ Help your child to express issues that are affecting them without fear.
◆ Let your child have someone they trust as a mentor and discuss your child's friends and know them.
◆ Children who grow with non-supportive mothers may rely more on psychological defence mechanisms (e.g. deny their own painful emotions and blamed others instead, stone walling not wanting to share and bitterness). Remember that positive mental health and wellbeing of children during first few months and years of a child's life enable their future health and success, so mothers let us do our best. Do your part for the best interest of your children.
◆ Dr. Mazvita Machinga is a psychotherapist based in Mutare. For child counseling and psychotherapy feel free to contact 0778 83 84 10 or 0771 754 519 or email email@example.com/ mmazvi@ yahoo.com