Forum: Look out for emotional, mental health of children

Posed photo of a child in depression. PHOTO: ST FILE

A landmark study here found that adverse childhood experiences significantly increase the risk of one developing a mental illness later in life (Adverse childhood experiences raise risk of mental illness later, June 25).

It is a good reminder that along with managing our own mental health, we should also look out for the emotional and mental well-being of our children, as this can have a lasting impact on their lives.

Unfortunately, good parenting is not taught anywhere. Mostly, we learn to parent from watching our own parents in action, often unconsciously inheriting their good and not-so-good parenting methods.

We, however, always have the opportunity to do better as parents or caregivers ourselves. We don't have to settle for the same negative traits or unhelpful patterns, and certainly can choose not to pass these on to our children.

So, if we find ourselves in this position, what do we do?

First, start with self-awareness. Learn more about what you are doing right, and what you can do better. The journey to helping your child starts with being more reflective of your own history, thought patterns, behaviours and triggers.

Second, educate yourself on the warning signs of emotional neglect in your child. Watch out for telltale signs such as aggression, low self-esteem or withdrawal.

Third, find the right help. Sometimes, self-reflection and education can be hard to do on one's own, and one should see a counsellor if needed.

In Singapore, parents often work hard to provide the means for their child's academic success, whether it is paying for tuition, or enrolling them in various extra-curricular activities. What often gets overlooked is their child's mental and emotional health. Let's get this right as well.

Shilpa Jain


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2020, with the headline Forum: Look out for emotional, mental health of children. Subscribe