Recently I was out for dinner with a girlfriend when she received a call from her husband because her daughter wanted to say goodnight. Her daughter was feeling sad that her Mum wasn’t there for the normal bedtime routine. I listened to my friend gently talking to her daughter, validating her feelings and assuring her how much she loved her and missed her also, but they would see each other in the morning.
As I sat there I wondered to myself how different life would’ve been had I been parented by someone who validated my emotions like that when I was a child.
Now, before I go further, I will say that my parents ‘parented’ the general way most people parented back then with comments like ‘come on, cheer up’ or ‘you’ll be alright’. Of course, I survived, but in the spirit of there always being room for improvement I strongly believe validating children’s feelings and helping them make sense of their emotions makes a HUGE difference to how they function as an adult.
The way we cope with adversity in life comes from how we were taught; from watching others, or what we’ve been told is ok or not ok to do, or from doing the exact opposite of what we’ve seen or experienced. Once we are adults, unless we make a definite effort to change how we deal with life, we continue to do the same thing. For those who learnt healthy coping skills, this works great! For those who didn’t, it can be tough, and lead to the prolonging of mental and emotional distress. The waters are murky by the time we are adults if we have trouble coping with stress and difficult emotions, finding the clearer waters can be like sieving mud in an estuary.
As adults, anyone can learn new skills, but can you imagine how awesome a little person would be if we taught these skills to them? They are absolutely in their prime to learn this stuff! Anything we talk to them about becomes normal to them and anything we teach them as simply a-way-of-life is taken in and absorbed like a sponge. It sticks. Ahhhh…..the abilities of a young mind!
What if we taught children ways to deal with stress, anxiety, hurt, and other normal low feelings we all experience at times. Teach them ways so they can bounce back much quicker and ways to calm themselves.
Can you imagine how different life would be with skills in-built for when you get to your teens and adulthood? I can!!
As parents, we spend lots of time teaching our children about their physical safety, from not hurting themselves on plug sockets, to crossing the road, to not burning themselves on the oven or fireplace, to hygiene. This training is extensive and goes on for years! But how much time do we spend teaching them about their mental health?
This is the very reason I’ve created ‘Offspring Wellbeing’, to teach adults skills to help children have better emotional and mental wellbeing.
Our mental health system is limping, operating out of the ole ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’ scenario. It is severely underfunded and will take a long time to fix. We have people working hard to fix this, but in the meantime what can WE do??
We focus on the next generation! Our children. Can you imagine how different society would look in 15yrs time if we have a hoard of young people coming through with wellbeing skills that would help them through times of adversity? There would be much less strain on our mental health system and much more Wellness.
Let’s do this!