Saturday, October 10, 2015

Parental Resilience and Mental Health

I was recently talking to a group of Mom's about Parental Resilience and as today is Mental Health Awareness Day I want to share some of the same thoughts here. We are so conditioned in Western culture to think of mental health as limited to Bipolar, Depression, and Multiple Personality Disorder. However, mental health also extends to stress, mental exhaustion, and road rage.

Let me ask you a question when was the last time you got so frustrated with your child you wanted to pull your hair out? How often does it happen? What happens when you reach the tiping point? If you answer within the last three months to the first question. Less than three months on the to the second question. And I spank to the third question. It is my assertion you are overtaxed, stressed, and/or having a tough time setting and maintaining boundaries. I
 would like to make the following four suggestions.

  1. Take some "me time" on a weekly basis. We all have things we do to relax. Some read, some walk/run, some knit, and some do nothing all, set aside 2-hours minimum a week to yourself to  do something which recharges your own batteries. The purpose of this is it relieves stress and allows you time just to be. Just being is an important part of developing a well rounded mental healthvcare plan.
  2. Teach your kids to relax. Each weekday as you get home make it quiet time. (30-45 minutes.)Make this a "family time out". Everyone should have their own spot, get comfortable and do something relaxing. ( read a book, look at a magazine, color, work with play dough, paint,  write a story ,draw pictures,etc. ) I strongly suggest not including television or gaming during this time. These activities while they can be quiet via headphones . They race the brain with the colors, images, and sounds which causes the opposite reaction in children.
  3. Create a set of rules and consequences for your family. Parents can create 3-5 general rules which encompass a wide variety of behaviors. Here are the three generally found in an Early Childhood Classroom. Be Safe, Be Kind, Be Neat. Have the family sit down together and develop consequences and rewards. Put the rules, consequences, and rewards up and review them on a daily basis for the first month. Then weekly for the next month.  Finally review them monthly on a permanent basis.. This takes parents out of the bad guy role. Children know the rules. Keep in mind these are family rules, so if,Mom or Dad break the rules they also have to pay the consequences.
  4.  Remember parenting is primarily working to build strong, long-lasting, relationships with your children. Do things you both enjoy. Doing these fun things together builds bonds and reinforces  relationships.

Mental health in the general population is not about medication or hospitalization. Rather it requires we put plans, habits, and structures in place to keep us on an even keel. An adult who puts a premium on maintaining these practices, will support their child's ability to exercise these same habits.

Believe in Parenting


  1. Lovely, Barbara. I especially like your rules: Be Safe, Be Kind, Be Neat.

  2. Thanks Leah, stating rules in a way which helps children know what to do is a powerful tool for patients