'The more connected a child feels to a parent, the less afraid they feel'

It’s Children’s Mental Health Week, and there is more focus on children’s wellbeing than usual. I feel like this should be a topic that we closely look at on a daily basis. Why? Because children all over the world are struggling with anxiety in its many different forms. Anxiety is fear. There are only two real states of emotion; they are fear and love. When a child is operating a lot of the time from fear ; we say that they are anxious or have anxiety. But what does this really mean? I am going to discuss here a few root causes to children’s anxiety from the perspective of emotions and mental wellbeing. There are also aspects such as food and diet that can impact mental health as well and that is always worth discussing with a nutritionist. So what causes fear? I’ve come to find that there are a few factors that are at the root of a human beings emotion of fear. Lack of connection is one of those things. When a child doesn’t feel emotionally connected to their primary care giver due to a break in communication or not knowing how to ask to have their needs met; we end up with a lack of connection. This often looks like a parent being really confused as to why their child feels anxious and the child doesn’t know why he or she feels anxious either. So this is where the lack of communication and understanding appears. And this is where I help parents to bridge that gap and begin to see what’s really going on and what their child’s behaviour is saying. The next step is to show parents ways to meet their child’s needs and communicate it in a way that their child will hear it. You’d think we’d all be born with this knowledge but I certainly wasn’t. I spent years studying and observing human behaviour and personally learning in my own life to be able to then pass this onto others who really need it too.

So when we recognise that children really need connection to thrive mentally and emotionally, our next question is often, “ what does that look like/ how do I do that on a practical level?” Let me share 2 ways that you can create more connection with your child:

Ask them questions to find out more about who they are. Questions like, “ when are the times when you feel closest to Mummy?” And give them examples such as- “ when I stroke your hair, when I play ball with you, when I say I love you to you.” This will give you information as to what their love language is ( the way that they mainly interpret love and feel it) and this then creates connection.

Spend time 1-1 with each child on a regular basis, doing those things that they specifically mentioned to you. The key thing to remember here is that every child is really unique. So one of your children may feel connected by spending time doing an activity with you, whilst another child might need physical touch (ie hand holding, stroking their face or hands etc.)

The more we can meet the individual needs of another human being emotionally, the more connection we then create. And the more connected a child or adult feels to another person, the less afraid they feel. We can’t get enough of this thing called connection! Author credit: Jen Harrison www.sensitivechild.co.uk