During Children's Mental Health Week (May 7th to May 13th), the Center's Director of Child and Adolescent Services, Michael Zaretsky, LCSW-R, shares his thoughts on our organization's commitment to our young patients.
As children grow and develop, they are impacted by the world and environment around them. Parents can have a strong influence on their success and happiness in life but also need to be prepared to help children through difficulties that will always arise.
All children go through periods in their life when they may be confronted with frustration and disappointment -- in themselves and in their abilities. The manner upon which the parent supports them through these difficult times can make a large difference in how the child will learn to deal with struggles throughout their lives.
"Number One" priority is to provide praise and support to your children. We all want our children to get A’s in school and to excel, to be great athletes and artists. We want them to get 100% in everything. In reality, very few do. Each child has their individual strengths, success is a relative term and we need to learn how to recognize it at all stages and ages. One child is going to love science and be great in it, another child will love to read and write and a third may be great with their hands and love to build and create.
From praising their first words, to spending time talking to children about an art project or the first poem they write -- these interactions will nurture children and build their confidence to take on other more challenging tasks. You need to wear that macaroni neckless they made for you for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. You need to show them you are proud of them for trying a new food or for just getting a difficult homework assignment done. Find their accomplishments and try not to focus on grades, but achievements. You must help them learn to try new things, encourage them when they are scared, and praise them for giving it a try, regardless of the outcome.
If your child is disappointed in themselves, don’t let them sit alone with it. Talk to them about how hard they worked and remind them that everything takes time to learn. Remind them you love them and are proud of them. And yes, tell them the story about how you fell five times when you tried to learn to roller skate. Share with them that math was hard for you also. Let them know that it is OK, and you are proud of them for working hard and trying their best. Always offer to sit with them and support their studying and effort. Set an example by turning the TV off and sitting and reading next to them while they do their homework.
Spend time with your children when they are happy and when they are sad. Just being with them and letting them tell you about it means so much to them and gives them confidence for the next day and the next event. Listen and be their best friend every day. As a parent or caretaker you are the most important person to them. You are their teacher and their protector.