How to future-proof your child for their mental well being.
Mental well-being and mental health are huge topics at the moment, the causes and reasons constantly up for debate, however whichever way you look at it mental health is a real concern for our young people.
Anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicides; all topics discussed more and more regularly with the young people I work with, many of them feeling unable to cope with everyday occurrences. Often the stress and pressure of school, looking perfect and the glare of social media gets the blame and while I’m not going to say they don’t have an impact, I think that the way we are raising our children can have a huge impact on the way they approach challenges in their life, mentally or otherwise.
If you are not familiar with the work by Carol Deck on mindsets you really should get a copy of this book. In Mindset the author talks about the difference between a child growing up with a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.
“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment,” Carol Dweck
Children growing up with growth mindsets tend to:
- Lower Their Risk of Depression.
- Be Better at Taking Responsibility For Their Life.
- Increase Their Resilience to Labels and Stereotypes.
- See Setbacks As Useful.
- Never Feel Stupid When Learning.
- Never Stress About Being Perfect.
- Avoid Feelings of Superiority.
Growth mindsets are developed early in the home and not by the parents who ease off the pressure; in fact this is known to have the opposite effect and just makes children feel that they aren’t capable.
Parents who raise children with growth mindsets tend to do combinations of these things.
1. Watch what they say to their children about abilities and talents been innate.
2. Praise Effort not Ability.
3. Have high Standards and a nurturing system.
4. Challenge the way our children talk about themselves especially any defeatist comments.
And all these things lead a child to be more mentally able to deal with challenges and set them up to have a healthier mental wellbeing.
Let’s take the feelings of sadness that may lead to later depression for an example.
A child with a fixed mindset is more likely to think that they can’t get themselves out of their depressive state, that it is permanent and take it on as a way of being, something that they have no control of unless through drugs.
A child with growth mindset is more likely to think that the feelings are temporary, that they can do things to make themselves feel better, that they have a degree of control over it and that there are many solutions to it.
The child with a growth mindset might still feel optimistic even while feeling extreme sadness, however a child with a fixed mindset will have a very pessimistic view from the start, therefore the likelihood of this leading to something more serious is greater.
I see them in my office, children who feel that everything is useless, that there is no way they will ever feel better and that they can’t help themselves at all, compared to the children that, while suffering the same symptoms, feel like things won’t be like this forever, that it will pass and despite how they feel will keep trying.
Now I know everything is much more complicated than I have suggested here; I have simplified things to prove the point but the ideas are still solid. A child who grows up with a growth mindset will be improving their mental well being.
So maybe we should be taking the conversation about mental health a little further, maybe we should be talking about how the way we raise children can have an impact on how they approach their mental health.
What do you think? I would love to continue this conversation with you over on my Facebook group. I have teachings and ideas on growth mindset in this group.