Think about who you are as a person: what you do, how successful you are, what your values are, and how you’ve lived your life. Why did you decide to be this person?
Well, of course, you didn’t – at least not entirely. Yes, you’ve tried to be the best person you can be. Yes, you’ve worked hard to achieve success. But what do you mean by “the best person you can be?” And what do you mean by “success?” The answers to these questions are deep, deep inside you, and they are formed by the experiences you have had in your life. And those experiences, disproportionately, are the ones you had as a child. This isn’t psycho-babble – this is real science. The idea that some of our most fundamental traits and skills are formed at a very young age has been borne out again and again by studies.
This doesn’t meant that we don’t have the capacity for change later in life, of course (it’s possible, though harder). But it does mean that what happens to each person when they are young is very, very important. And, as parents, we can use this knowledge to help our children.
Your Child’s Mind at Home
Your child’s psychological well-being begins at home, of course. Studies show that lower-income children fall drastically behind their peers in the number of words they hear, and that this has an affect on their future academic performance. So, no matter what your income, strive to make sure that your child is exposed to language early. Speak to them often, and speak in front of them. Read to them.
Reading to your child is also a great way to build a relationship with them. And love and support in the home is as important to a child’s mental well-being as reading and listening is to their future brainpower. So, as much as you can, spend time with your child. Be as emotionally available as you can, compliment your child, and treat them with respect. Avoid physical discipline and try to share lessons rather than reprimands.
Your Child’s Mind at School
A good school district is very important to your child’s future, so keep that in mind when you’re shopping for a home. If your local schools are letting you down, don’t be afraid to turn to a private school. And if your child is falling behind, make professionals a priority: tutors, learning specialists, and others are good investments.
And one thing studies show us regularly is that school should start early. No, not early in the day – early in your child’s life. Pre-K education has a huge impact on your child’s mind, which is a huge part of the reason why you’d expect a student at a Richmond Hill Montessori School to have brighter futures than one in a cheap day-care. A mind that is challenged young grows strong fast.
Of course, the school environment is also key to your child’s psychological health. When your child is young, choose a school that embraces positivity and makes mental health a priority. When they are older, make sure their school is safe and has counselors and other experts available.
Respond to your Child’s needs
Mental health issues can affect anyone. If your child shows signs of anxiety, depression, or mood disorders, make sure that you get them the help that they need. You wouldn’t ignore a broken leg, so don’t ignore problems with your child’s personality or mind! Turn to a psychiatrist or psychologist for vital professional help. Look for doctors who specialize in child or family psychiatry.
We’re each the product of our own upbringing, and your child will someday be the product of his or hers. Make sure that you do everything you can to promote your child’s brain power and mental health at home and at school, and be proactive about protecting them from mental illness.