AND CHILD MENTAL HEALTH
Mental health of children depends on the
way parents interact with them. Though every parent wishes to
provide the best at home, they may not be giving the best to
their children as no fool proof method of bringing up children
has been invented. This is because no two children are alike.
There are more differences between children than we ordinarily
believe. More over, culture, society, gender of the child and a
host of other factors interact with the upbringing of children.
Psychologists point out that there are
different styles of parenting. They believe that parenting styles
can be put into four categories depending on two factors. They
are parental warmth and parental control.
Type A (High on control low
Some parents believe that being strict with
children is the best way to make them good adults. In that
process parents tend to become over strict. They forget that
every child has a natural tendency to grow into freedom and
autonomy. Children should become free, independent and
autonomous. A fully developed personality manifests freedom from
unnecessary inhibitions. It also ensures high level of
independence and autonomy. Over strictness kills the spirit of
freedom. Children get the wrong idea that being free and
independent is undesirable. In the present competitive world a
child should be self-confident. This is achieved only through
parental support. In a situation where parents employ only
strictness and control and no love, children lose their
individuality and fail to take appropriate decisions in their
life as the parents have always taken the decisions Psychologists
feel that it could amount to authoritarian parenting.
Children of authoritarian parents do not become independent and
develop severe anxiety under situations that demand
decision-making. They tend to play secondary roles in all their
activities. Such children fail to become leaders. There is always
the possibility that they feel inferior to others in all
respects. In effect such children can never achieve the expected
goals of life.
Type B (Low on control high
This is another type of parenting in which
parents show lots of love without exercising adequate control. In
fact punishment of all types are avoided under the misconception
that Psychologists are against punishment. Children need
proportionate punishment depending on their actions. Reward and
punishment are the only two ways to make the child discriminate
between what is right and what is wrong. Values of the culture
are imbibed through the punishment and reward given by the
parents. Children need to be punished if situation demands it.
The common fault is that on the one side many parents indulge in
inconsistent punishment. A child is reprimanded for his wrong
doings on one occasion and praised or ignored for the same action
when it occurs again. This confuses the child and is objected to
by Psychologists. On the other side parents do not punish or
disagree with the child even if punishment is required. It is
opined that parents can always punish or disagree with the
action(s) or behavior(s) of the child but should not disapprove
the child as he is. The motto is accept and love the child but
reject and punish the specific action of the child. This conveys
to the child the feeling that parents do love him/her but
disapproves the action or behavior only.
In the Type B situation,
children are likely to become spoiled and would manifest
antisocial and criminal behavior patterns. We do not want this at
Type C (Low on control low on
Children cannot grow in an emotional
vacuum. If the parents do not show any love, life becomes barren
to the child. Children are naturally emotional than rational.
True development of personality is a harmonious blending of the
rational and the emotional. The art of this amalgamation takes
place only if parents are able to show love and control in the
right proportion. Children are creatures of instincts and
circumstances. Thus they are basically impulsive. When parents
control the behavior of children they come to understand that
exercising control is absolutely necessary to have a smooth
So also children need to be loved. The hug
of the mother when a child is under fear reassures the child.
Body contact between the mother and the child is the first sure
indicator of love to the child. As the child grows, words of
reassurance would become sufficient. Needless to say that
expression of love in some form is an absolute must for the
healthy development of the child. It is obvious that love and
control in the right proportion is the surest way to healthy
development. In the absence of these, the personality of children
gets distorted. Emotionally deprived children cannot become good
partners in their marital life as life between two individuals is
successfully mediated through the emotion of love. Emotions are
uncontrolled expressions of a primitive nature. Thus emotions
need to be regulated in an acceptable way. Control by parents
gives children the essential guideline for emotional expression.
It also gives the necessary structure within which emotions can
be expressed. Parenting without control and love is not
desirable. This is why Psychologists call that type of parenting
as Negligent parenting.
Type D (High on control high
From the above it is very clear that the
best parenting is the one with good control and adequate love.
Parents with high level of expressed love give clear indication
to children that children are loved unconditionally. They
differentiate between the child as a person on the one hand and
the childs behaviors on the other hand. Parents in the type
D category clearly differentiate the child
from his actions. They also reward children for
desirable behaviors and punish or withdraw rewards for
undesirable actions. These parents are consistent in their
behavior with children. They do not confuse children by punishing
them for one kind of behavior and rewarding them for the same
behavior on a later date. Children, like all of us, understand
consistency much easily than erratic behavior.
The most important point here is that a
child when punished for his behavior understands that parents
still love him as a person. The opposite of this is an action
from the parents that amounts to total rejection of the child.
When a child feels that the parents reject him totally the child
experiences intense loneliness and misery. This can lower the
self-esteem of the child and drive him to self-mutilation,
aggression and even suicide.
Let us look at the following expressions
Samples of communication in undesirable
Mother "You are a naughty
child. You always cause misery to all in the family. You are
Father "You bet your brother.
You are born "bad". You are really bad".
Samples of communication in desirable
Mother " You broke the flower
vase. This is not good behavior.
Here after do not break household
Father "You bet your brother.
This is not a good behavior". He is very young.
You must learn to restrain this behavior
with your brother".
Type D parenting is what
Psychologists call as authoritative (not
authoritarian) parenting. This type of parenting never rejects a
child totally, but only depreciates one of his several actions.
In this kind of parenting the child gets the clear idea that
parents disapprove one or two actions of him and do not out
rightly reject him. This is very important as out right rejection
by parents brings in the greatest insecurity.
A continuously insecure child is a
time bomb and he might explode with severe aggression
at any moment. Children can also become severely depressed, as
depression is aggression turned to oneself.
Having understood these why dont we
go ahead with the most desirable parenting style, the type
D? It is possible. After all every one of us wants our children
to be assets to the family and good citizens to the nation.
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