Parenting with a Focus on Children’s Mental Health

Written by: Zafra Aswar Ali 

Parenting is a responsibility like no other, combining both joyous and overwhelming experiences. Parents always wish the best for their children intending to raise healthy and happy children. However, certain actions can knowingly or unknowingly be perceived by children incorrectly and detrimentally affect their mental well-being. Therefore, children’s mental health should be given priority like their physical health because both are vital for their overall development process. 

First and foremost, let us look at four widely accepted parenting styles that can impact the mental health of children in various ways. 

1. Authoritarian Style 

This type of parenting is considered unhealthy because children are expected to follow the rules made by their parents without any questioning. For example, if a child is disobedient, he or she is severely punished without any prior communication or explanation. Moreover, they are pressured to do well in their academics and other extracurricular activities and get blamed for the simplest of mistakes without any appropriate guidance. 

Hence, this parenting style is viewed as toxic because, despite getting the child to be obedient, the consequences are often unpleasant. Children who experience that kind of parenting grow up with problems with their self-esteem and the sense of being undervalued which can lead to anxiety and depression. 

2. Authoritative Style 

Even in this parenting style, parents create a set of rules and have high expectations from their children. However, such parents are quite democratic in this regard because children are granted the freedom to voice out their opinions, ask questions, and share how they feel by maintaining a healthy and strong bond with their parents unlike in the authoritative style. Apart from that, these parents guide children with constructive criticism and are much more forgiving when their children make any mistake. 

This parenting style is the most recommended as children from this kind of parenting grow up to be happy and successful with enhanced self-esteem.  

3. Permissive Style 

Parents following this parenting style display a lack of guidance for immoral behaviours and dislike establishing a clear set of rules, while not expecting much from their children. As a result, children may face issues with authority and perform poorly in school. Furthermore, such children are reported to be less happy and encounter difficulties in self-regulation with a risk of developing anxiety and depression. 

On the flip side, parents with this parenting style are comparatively communicative and behave with their children as a friend more than a parent. 

4. Uninvolved Style 

Parents with this parenting style spend little to no time with their children and are less interested in their children’s activities although their basic needs are fulfilled. Thus, such children may display immoral and antisocial behaviours – lacking self-control and self-esteem when they grow up because of the absence of guidance from their parents. Ultimately, their future relationships are at risk due to the fear of being abandoned. 

Now let us explore some parenting approaches that parents can follow during the upbringing of their children with a better focus on their children’s mental well-being. 

Active listening 

Paying undivided attention to your children when they communicate with you can undoubtedly help create a healthy relationship with them. Once you start listening to them actively, they will feel valued and have no hesitation to share any information. Remember to maintain eye contact and of course, avoid interrupting them while they talk. 

Allow them to express their emotions 

Creating a safe space for your children to express their emotions without being judged is a crucial aspect of their upbringing. So, always validate how they feel, whether they are angry, happy, or sad, and handle them empathetically. 

Create a supportive environment 

Beyond validating their emotions, it is also vital to ensure that they feel safe and nurtured in the home environment. This would enable them to augment their mental well-being because of the unconditional love and support they gain. 

Set realistic expectations 

Pressurising your children to attain a particular level of success in their academic and extracurricular activities is an unhealthy method of parenting. Instead, as parents you must teach your children the importance of progress over perfection and motivate them to do better every day as human beings. 

Teach coping strategies 

This is another effective strategy to boost the mental health of your children. Encouraging them to cope with their negative emotions by journaling, meditation, or simple breathing techniques would be beneficial in the long run. 

Reduce screen time 

Spending too much time on smart devices can have negative consequences on both the physical and mental health of your children. Therefore, limit their screen time and push them to engage in various physical activities including any sports activity, or simply take them for a walk. In addition, encourage them to build social relationships as it plays a major role in emotional development. 

With that being said, useful online activities must also be given preference. Tools such as parental controls can be made use of while granting them access to content suitable only for their age category without it being a disruption to other offline activities. 

Reach out to a professional when necessary 

Regardless of applying suitable parenting techniques, certain behavioural or emotional issues pertaining to mental health such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, and learning disabilities cannot be addressed by yourself. In that case, seek assistance from a mental health professional without any delay and do the needful. 

Conclusion 

There is no right or wrong way of parenting because of the unique situations in each household and a parenting style alone cannot determine a child’s growth. Nevertheless, parenting is a journey full of ups and downs that require high levels of commitment, empathy, and most importantly patience. Therefore, as parents, be mindful of practising healthy parenting approaches that would enhance your children’s mental well-being – specifically by paying attention to their needs, as each child is unique in their own way. 

Bridging Differences: A Guide to Finding a Middle Ground for Effective Conflict Resolution

Written by: Sabeeha Azmi 

Conflict is an unavoidable part of life, as people have unique and different opinions, needs, values, and goals. Conflicts may arise in various situations within various relationships such as personal relationships, the workplace, or even on a global scale. Engaging and enduring conflicts could lead to misunderstandings, stress and could even escalate to violence and adverse outcomes if it is not managed effectively. To avoid negative consequences, the skilful art of conflict resolution creates opportunities to turn tension into understanding and growth through fostering effective communication, empathy, and compromise. 

Let’s take a deeper look at what conflict resolution is. It is a process that allows individuals to resolve and address their disagreements and disputes in a manner that is constructive. The goal of conflict resolution isn’t just to end the dispute but to also arrive at a mutually acceptable solution that takes into consideration the needs and concerns of all individuals involved. It is to aim for a win-win situation, where we can all come together, collaborate, and find a common ground. 

There are several key aspects that are considered during conflict resolution. These are principles you can apply to your daily life to ensure that you navigate conflict with grace. 

Open and Honest Communication: being able to express our thoughts in a clear manner is the foundation of effective conflict resolution. You can practise by using active listening and having an open mind to understand others’ perspectives. Effectively communicating one’s needs and thoughts has the power to dismantle barriers, foster empathy and help uncover underlying issues that need to be addressed. 

Expressing Empathy: this involves placing ourselves in the other person’s shoes to really connect with their emotions, perceptions and thoughts. Expressing empathy during conflicts can help bridge the gap between various opinions and create a safe space of trust and understanding. 

Collaboration: putting effort into working together to find a solution that meets the interests of everyone involved promotes shared responsibility and encourages a positive relationship between individuals. 

Problem-Solving Approach: this is an essential component of conflict resolution. It is important to focus on the underlying issues and not engage in personal attacks. Addressing the root causes of the disagreements can lead to identifying solutions that can help address the concerns of all individuals. 

Use I-Statements: it is always better to avoid the accusatory “you” statements and rather use “I” statements to express your emotions and thoughts without assigning the blame to anyone. For example, you can say “I felt hurt when you said this …” This can also encourage non-confrontational conversation. 

Try Negotiation: this involves a give-and-take approach, where individuals assess the situation and make compromises and concessions to reach a beneficial outcome that is mutual for all individuals. 

Avoid Escalating the Situation: it is crucial to focus on not escalating disputes by remaining composed and calm. Responding to conflict with anger will only intensify the situation and hinder effective communication. 

A benefit of conflict resolution is that it can help improve and build healthier relationships that build trust and understanding. It can also encourage individuals to self-reflect and allows for personal growth as you learn to manage emotions and find common ground. 

Conflict resolution can be a powerful tool that transforms disharmony into cooperation. Let’s take a deep breath and embrace the art of open communication, empathy, and openness toward the various diverse perspectives and opinions we come across. So next time you end up in a dispute remember to use these tools to help bridge those differences! 

The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Mental Health

Written by: Zafra Aswar Ali 

Out of the many functions carried out by the human brain, the generation of emotions is one of the most remarkable functions that plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, when feeling stressed or encountering any emotion that may be threatening to oneself and those around, some individuals are able to better deal with the situation than others. This is due to the ability to display emotional intelligence. 

The term emotional intelligence (EI/EQ) was initially introduced in 1990 by two psychologists named Mayer and Salovey. It can be defined as one’s capability to accurately comprehend, process, and control information related to emotions. This can be either within oneself and utilising that information to express the appropriate thoughts and actions as well as guide others on how to think and act accordingly during a specific situation that eventually results in sustaining a better mental state. 

Moreover, when compared to the intelligence quotient (IQ), emotional intelligence is a dynamic intellectual feature that is comprised of five major skills that can be acquired and enhanced when one already possesses such skills. These skills are self-regulation (ability to manage negative emotions and adapt to changes), motivation (ability to self-motivate to attain self-satisfaction), empathy (ability in understanding others’ feelings), social skills (ability to manage others’ emotions to build rapport), and self-awareness (ability to identify and understand one’s own emotions). While some people have a natural tendency of displaying higher emotional intelligence, others should be mindful of initially cultivating these basic skills to improve their levels of emotional intelligence. 

Based on these details it can be comprehended that emotional intelligence and the importance of practicing it has become a vital aspect in one’s personal as well as professional life. In addition, it also has a major influence on improving the mental well-being of individuals by enabling them to cope with mentally challenging situations. Let us look at some key benefits of practicing emotional intelligence on one’s mental health. 

1. Ability to manage stress 

Experiencing stress during a challenging situation is common and a certain level of stress are undoubtedly essential for progression. On the contrary, specific stressful situations like work stress have the potential to result in harmful behaviours and require one’s ability to analyse the situation with emotional intelligence. 

Subsequently, learning the art of emotional intelligence and implementing it while encountering stress, and controlling one’s own negative reactions to others’ negative emotions, becomes rather convenient, especially within workforces. 

2. Ability to accept constructive criticism 

Criticism is negative feedback to someone, whereas constructive criticism is also negative feedback, but one that allows an individual to improve themselves for their betterment. While nobody would be willing to accept criticism, many people may find it difficult to accept constructive criticism as well due to a lack of emotional intelligence. 

Hence, when one practices emotional intelligence, they learn to accept constructive criticisms during studies or employment with self-regulation rather than reacting with enragement. 

3. Increased resilience 

After going through negative experiences, not all individuals have the capability to analyse and cope with negative emotions. However, with emotional intelligence, a person would be more resilient and adapt themselves to a positive change. This in turn leads to better mental health. 

4. Higher levels of confidence 

Being confident is useful for mental well-being as confidence can help people think positively and take better decisions in life. This quality can be developed with emotional intelligence as well because he/she develops the sense of identifying and regulating emotions and becomes confident in facing whatever life strikes them with. 

Emotional intelligence is a vital skill that helps in the management of stress, increase resilience, regulate emotions as well as maintain strong interpersonal relationships in the long run. It can be developed mainly by self-reflecting and is undoubtedly beneficial in upholding stable mental health. 

The Significance of Empathy in Fostering Mental Well-being 

Written by: Zafra Aswar Ali

Individuals around the world have various ways of coping with their struggles pertaining to their mental health. Some people manage to face and resolve their struggles by themselves, while others tend to also seek support from other people. Therefore, when an individual requires assistance from either his or her family members, peers, or colleagues, empathy plays a crucial role in dealing with their mental health issues. 

Empathy is well-defined as a quality or an ability to understand another individual’s situation emotionally from his or her perspective by imagining oneself in that state. It can be divided into two namely; emotional empathy and cognitive empathy. Emotional empathy is feeling the emotion another person feels, whereas the perception and intellectual capacity of how someone else feels is cognitive empathy, which is a skill that may take a while to develop. 

The term empathy is often misunderstood with the term sympathy which is a sense of feeling pity about how someone else may feel and is rather a superficial connection built with one another when compared to being empathetic. Even though both terminologies share the suffix -pathy (meaning ‘emotion’, ‘feeling’, or ‘suffering’), the major difference between empathy and sympathy is, the former deals with feeling and understanding what someone feels, and the latter does not deal with feeling or understanding another individual similarly. Hence, being sympathetic does not allow one to comprehend another person’s state from his or her point of view. 

When the impact of empathy on mental well-being is taken into consideration, it is indeed vital to practice the act of empathy because it renders an opportunity to connect with individuals at a deeper level while listening to their thoughts and feelings, especially if such thoughts and feelings have detrimental effects on their mental well-being. Apart from attempting to resolve others’ problems, cultivating empathy can also be beneficial to oneself in practicing emotional intelligence. Consequently, this would aid in keeping stress at bay by efficaciously managing stressful circumstances. 

Although being an empath may seem quite simple, not everyone is aware of implementing it effectively due to misconceptions. As a result, they end up being sympathetic toward someone else’s feelings and offer help out of sympathy, failing to display their sense of empathy. 

Therefore, to understand people and their emotions beyond a surface level, developing empathy becomes a necessity, especially for those holding leadership positions in a workplace for instance. 

Here are some methods that can be followed to develop empathy: 

1. Active listening 

One of the foremost factors that would help nurture the quality of empathy is listening. This needs to be done in a non-judgmental manner to the individual who is divulging their feelings This individual therefore becomes better understood and would reveal more information with trust. 

2. Try to stay away from biased thoughts 

Undoubtedly, all individuals have differences in opinions regarding various aspects. Subsequently, biased thoughts alone could prevent oneself from being empathetic as it is easier to judge another based on stereotypical viewpoints and stigmas. Thus, keeping such biased thoughts aside and analysing someone else’s state solely from their experience can help to become more empathetic. 

3. Refer to what they said with empathetic terms 

Another key strategy to become an empath is to repeat some words of what another individual would state along with some terms that would denote a sense of empathy such as ‘I understand’. This would potentially allow the individual to feel at ease as well as make corrections if the information is perceived incorrectly. 

Empathy is a quality, which is also considered a skill in certain contexts, that is essential when trying to think through what another person is experiencing in terms of their emotions at a deeper level. This in turn enables one to build a rapport that would help analyse the situation better. Additionally, this form of emotional support would assist them to sustain better mental health that cannot be achieved by merely sympathising.