Tips for caregivers who are supporting Children’s Mental Health.

In light of children’s mental health week, our Pastoral officer, Upasna Ghale, wrote the following as advice to caregivers from her own experiences:

Be vulnerable
Your children learn everything from you as caregivers/parents. While the role of a caregiver might be challenging please make sure that you express your concerns of how being a caregiver can be challenging or how your emotions & feelings might be today & tomorrow, or how you feel about your
decisions in life. Cry, laugh, enjoy with and in front of your child. This will not only make you closer
to them but also give a space for your child to accept you as an individual with all the flaws and how
in everyday life you try to make yourself better

Separate your journey from your child’s
All of us as individuals are on a journey, we have our pace of learning and our experiences differ from
each other. As caregivers it is important that we see the child as an individual, an individual who is
here to learn and unlearn in the process of life. So your child’s mistakes are not yours, your child’s
achievements are not yours either. Practice detachment from the idea of raising a perfect child.

‘Give’ but also learn to ‘receive’
Believe it or not, children want to take initiatives and give back to their caregivers in every way
possible. Be it of any age our young ones really want to take care and show love to the caregivers.
The way of giving may vary from making handmade things as gifts, to baking, to saving money to
buy an essential thing, to helping in day to day life and the list goes on. As much as it is our role to
give as nurturers sometimes overlooking for flaws in the process we should accept to receive from our
children too. As they say ‘the essence of giving stays longer than receiving’. Let our children
experience that too

Less ‘advising’ more ‘listening’
One of the deepest way to show love is ‘to listen’. I know it is tough being a caregiver to not feel
protected all the time. But try practising the magic of active listening with your child. Pause, breathe
and reflect on what the child has to say. Further probing can be done. But the moment a caregiver
turns judgemental and starts advising on where the child went wrong or what could have been better,
the chord is broken between the two individuals. The child sometimes already scared of a mistake
comes to the adult for comfort, love & warmth. Listen carefully.

Separate the incident from the individual
Don’t label a child on the mistakes of the past. As caregivers it becomes necessary that we practice
detachment in terms of separating the action from the individual. An action cannot define the child as
a whole and the various aspects of the child’s personality.

Every child has a different language of expression
Let’s not paint all our children in the colour ‘should be’. While it is easy to define ideal ways of
responding to everything, it takes efforts and lots of understanding to acknowledge the language of
expression. Let’s not judge the extroverts as better than the introverts, let’s not push each child on
stand on the stage and speak. Let’s nurture our children for who they are and the gifts they have.

Say ‘sorry’ often
As adults we make mistakes and it is human to make mistakes. Apologising bridges the gap between
the hierarchy of the elder and the young. It makes us human and also teaches our children acceptance.
Saying sorry makes the child feel valued and cared for. It acknowledges the importance of the child in
their own eyes.

Healthy communication
The gateway to establish a healthy communication is unconditional positive regard and non-
judgemental listening. Communication at its best is a flow of ideas, agreeing to disagreeing and
respecting each other’s point of views and understanding where they come from. It becomes the
responsibility of the caregivers to enable an emotionally safe space for the child, wherein the child
expresses himself/herself without being judged.

Prioritise your mental health
Caregiving is a very demanding process and as caregivers we are often struggling to find time for our
own self-care. In order to be a giver your inner reserve has to be constantly filled and that will be
possible by taking out time for the self. Follow a self-care routine which can be anything that gives
you a meaningful time away from all responsibilities like journaling, walking, cycling, dancing,
meditation, yoga, painting, reading etc.

Upasna Ghale
(Pastoral Officer)
Pestalozzi India

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