The Real Ambassadors of Mindfulness

 - Sakshi Post

Through their curiosity, mindfulness, and endless imagination, children allude to understanding the components of healthy living. Quoting Haim Ginott, a child psychologist, "Children are like wet cement; whatever falls on them makes an impression." A child's mind is just like this, quick to form memories, impressions, behaviours, and early trauma experiences. Almost always, every child is born with an immense and insatiable curiosity. Curiosity exploration in children has an evolutionary significance. Curiosity is the key to lifelong learning in human evolution, and children are the best advocates. It is an evolutionary process represented as a heuristic learning spiral—gathering information, trial and error, and informed action. Additionally, there are more than 1 million new neural connections per second emerging during the processes of children's relentless questions and endless, "what is that? why is it like this?" etc. Parents can use curiosity and exploration as an anchor to nurture one of the most crucial aspects of mental wellbeing when children grow up, i.e., planning, creative thinking and problem solving, critical thinking and reasoning, emotional regulation, etc.

Children are profoundly intelligent beings. They are incredibly capable of understanding narratives that gravitate between healthy growth and trauma-inducing environments. It could be fruitful for parents or guardians to utilise these moments to engage in mindful and conscious parenting. It starts by setting intentions to grow with children, answering their endless questions while being honest when there are no answers. Active listening, being present, encouraging expressions of feelings, emotions, and thoughts, and, most importantly, admitting mistakes when parents are wrong are the cornerstones of children's mental health.

Parents and adults can sometimes oversee how prudent and intelligent children can be. Some adults can overlook what 'being a child' means by instantly assuming that children have much less intelligence than adults. Without a doubt, children have proven, time and again, that they are efficient in handling baffling life situations. It is the parents or guardians who worry about their children's abilities. Parents can, however, instil the value of forgiveness in children. After all, practising forgiveness can be complicated for adults too. Researchers spotlight that forgiveness, much like other complex emotions like grief and bereavement, forgiving someone can take several years. Forgiveness evolves over the developmental years. A child versus an adolescent versus an adult forgiving can vary significantly. Teaching children to practise forgiveness can be a stepping stone in trauma recovery as they grow up. They can come to terms with significant events in their lives by not assigning self-blame and causing a rupture to their personalities and identities.

Subsequently, it can be hard to bypass the effects of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic on human beings, especially children - typically growing and those with neurodivergence. The abrupt lockdowns and myriad restrictions compelled children to scruffle. Lack of socialisation made it arduous for children to understand the "new normal". Neurodivergent children and their parents found it much harder to navigate through learnt skills, let alone focus on new skills. Regardless, have we not seen children harness grit through these tough times? They are much stronger than we thought they were.

Yet, children need support from adults. It can allow parents to germinate the aspects of mental hygiene in their children's lives whilst practising mental hygiene themselves. Parents don't essentially have to stay on top of everything with their children. Instead, create spaces to belong, provide time to reach out, materialise opportunities to develop competencies, assure a healthy environment at home, encourage and reinforce gritty behaviours and have a crisis management toolkit, regardless of the age and gender of the child.

Author - Ashwini HJ, Psychologist and Mental Health Vertical Head at Authentic Living

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