Child-rearing has always been a highly controversial problem because of its potential to affect the future development of one both physically and psychologically. Sometimes parents do not receive a "manual" or "how to" guide when raising their children, failed to identify problems both of themselves’ and their children before those problems result in more severe negative impacts on their children. Parents either fail to acknowledge, misunderstand, or relies on stereotypical ideas when evaluating the importance of the mental health of their children and their role in child development or were not able to find practical, reliable, and accessible information to guide them to follow the scientific and advantageous parenting ways.
This website’s purpose is to serve as a resource that intends to not only raise parent's awareness about the importance of mental health of their children but also guides the parents into the correct mindset and direction regarding child development with support from research and provides more information on resources if the parents are interested or in-need of suggestions from professionals.
Why is it important to pay attention to children's mental health?
What are some current problems?
Why is Children's Mental Health Important?
Mental health — an essential part of children's overall health — has a complex interactive relationship with their physical health and their ability to succeed in school, at work, and in society. Both physical and mental health affects how we think, feel and act on the inside and outside.
For instance, an overweight young boy who is teased about his weight may withdraw socially and become depressed and may be reluctant to play with others or exercise, which further contributes to his poorer physical health and as a result poorer mental health. These issues have long-term implications on the ability of children and youth to fulfill their potential as well as consequences for the health, education, labor and criminal justice systems of our society.
An estimated 15 million of our nation's young people can currently be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Many more are at risk of developing a disorder due to risk factors in their biology or genetics; within their families, schools, and communities; and among their peers. However, it is estimated that only about 7% of these youths who need services receive appropriate help from mental health professionals.
20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year
50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24
Incorrect parenting ways, family environments and child behaviors impact the mental and physical healthiness of children and adolescents severely
In 2010–2012, 5.8% of U.S. children ages 6 to 11 had serious EBDs(emotional or behavioral difficulties ) and 17.3% had minor EBDs. Among children with EBDs, about 50% received neither medication nor psychosocial services.
According to the census, more than 10% of adolescents have had 1+major depressive episode in the past year, and about 25% adolescents have had an anxiety disorder. One of the most common consequences of these problems is self-harm, which affects adolescents’ physical health in addition to their psychological unstableness. Even though self-harm is not most adolescents’ first choice, the number of adolescents chose to use it as a method to cope with their emotions and feeling increased rapidly, from 1.7 million to 2.4 million posts, almost 1.5 times, on Instagram only.
What are parenting styles? What impact could parenting styles have on the children?
What are parenting styles?
Psychologists classically describe overall ways of parenting in terms of parenting styles. The most commonly used typology of normal parenting is based on work by Diana Baumrind. She distinguished between Authoritative, Authoritarian, and Permissive parenting.
The Impact of Parenting Styles
Children of the authoritative teacher model grow up feeling loved, respected, have high self-esteem, and learn to be cooperative and respectful with others. This is a recipe for adult success.
Children raised by authoritarian parents tend to grow up as fearful, overly submissive, low-esteemed adults. The other response is to retaliate against parents as they get older and bigger, sometimes becoming unmanageable when children strike back, using their power against their parents. These children feel unloved and rejected.
Children of permissive parents often grow up selfish, uncooperative and demanding in all their relationships. They, too, feel unloved because there is no love in the parents who are victims. Parents feel no love but feel tons of resentment. When these children grow up, they can become violent to their spouses and children.
Uninvolved parenting, as a result, teens generally show similar patterns of behavior as adolescents raised in permissive homes and they may also demonstrate impulsive behaviors due to issues with self-regulation. They have low self-esteem and are less competent than their peers.
Why do parenting styles differ?
The parents are bringing their experiences, cultural differences, background, socio-economic status, education level and religion when raising their children. Child behavior and temper could influence parenting style as well. Whereas a cooperative, motivated, and the responsible teen might be more likely to have parents who exercise an authoritative parenting style, an uncooperative, immature, and irresponsible teen may be more likely to elicit a parenting style that is authoritarian or uninvolved. Parenting styles might also differ between parents (e.g. one parent could be permissive while the other parent is authoritarian). In this situation, parents should discuss, in private, acceptable and unacceptable child behaviors and those areas where they can reach agreement on parenting their child to avoid favoritism for one of the parents and argument between the couple.
The most effective and successful parenting style - Authoritative parenting
What specifically is authoritative parenting and how is it advantageous?
Developed by Diana Baumrind in 1966 at the University of California at Berkeley, the authoritative parenting model has evolved over the years. Most importantly, studies show that children raised with authoritative parenting are the most psychologically well-adjusted. They are creative and intellectually curious, and intrinsically motivated to achieve. They have good social skills, remain connected to parents and friends, and manage themselves well -- they are self-reliant, self-confident, they take initiative, and they have good self-control.
As Baumrind explains, authoritative parenting artfully combines qualities of responsiveness and demandingness:
Responsiveness, or nurturance, refers to the warmth, love, understanding, and empathy that a parent offers a child. Responsive parenting accepts the child's unique needs, abilities, and perspectives, taking age and temperament into account. Responsive parents delight in their children and stay attuned to their feelings.
Demandingness, or control, refers to age-appropriate limits, boundaries, and expectation that parents set for children. Behavioral guidelines and standards are best clarified through discussion and explanation, preferably ahead of time, which exercises the child's ability to reason rather than blindly obey. Discipline and power-assertion are last resorts--best reserved for issues of safety. Children become more autonomous as they get older (the end goal is they manage their lives themselves), so the authoritative parent celebrates the child's small steps toward independence. Again, skilled authoritative parents keep their expectations appropriate, taking into account the child's developmental skills and temperament.
Some simple questions for parents to consider when evaluating if your child’s behavior is typical or might need some services such as PCIT
What are the types of behaviors you are seeing in your child? Is such behavior typical to the development stage of a child?
e.g. verbal/physical aggressive, kicking, hitting, violent action with “weapon”
Is there any recent changes or stressors in the family or in a child’s life? Children might response to stressors with external behaviors.
e.g. change in school(possibly bullying), change in family(new baby/illness/death), etc.
How often and how long is the behavior happening? What is the duration of the behavior?
e.g. once a week/once a day/very often
What is the intensity of the behaviors that the child enact?
e.g. mild/high level of intensity
What are other people’s perspectives to the behaviors of the child?
e.g. teachers, other adults
help parents to determine which childhood behaviors are part of normal development and which might need a psychologist's attention
What is PCIT?
Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is a dyadic behavioral intervention for children (ages 2.0 – 7.0 years) and their parents or caregivers that focuses on decreasing externalizing child behavior problems (e.g., defiance, aggression), increasing child social skills and cooperation, and improving the parent-child attachment relationship. It teaches parents traditional play-therapy skills to use as social reinforcers of positive child behavior and traditional behavior management skills to decrease negative child behavior. Parents are taught and practice these skills with their child in a playroom while coached by a therapist. The coaching provides parents with immediate feedback on their use of the new parenting skills, which enables them to apply the skills correctly and master them rapidly. PCIT is time-unlimited; families remain in treatment until parents have demonstrated mastery of the treatment skills and rate their child’s behavior as within normal limits on a standardized measure of child behavior. Therefore treatment length varies but averages about 14 weeks, with hour-long weekly sessions.
an eight-week class that teaches positive parenting skills to parents of young children to foster safe, stable, healthy and nurturing environments and relationships that prevent children's exposure to abuse and adversities