Young Minds reports that “1 in 10 children and young people aged 5 – 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder” that equates to about 3 children in every class. Children learn and are shaped by the environment which surrounds them, school, TV, social media, family, friends etc. and however hard you try these factors will not always be positive.
Most children process these negative thoughts and experiences quite well, in other children however these concerns can build and manifest themselves as unwanted or concerning habits or behaviours. Common effects include bedwetting, nail biting, lack of confidence, eating issues, phobias, anxiety, anger, self-harm, trichlomania (hair pulling), stuttering, body image, stress, blushing, separation anxiety, and many more.
It is interesting to know that the brains Critical Filter (kind of truth detector) does not develop until the age of 5 or 6, so up until that age a child will pretty much believe what they are told. This is why they can believe in Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy! But it also means that they can fully believe if told they are a ‘naughty boy’ or ‘a clever girl’ or ‘shy’ or ‘a silly billy’ etc. These ideas form part of their core belief and can shape a child for the rest of their lives.
Added to this exam pressure, change in family circumstance, bereavement, or bullying etc., we can easily see how these deep rooted negative beliefs can begin to damage a child’s confidence and self-esteem.
What can you do?
If your child is showing signs of anxiety or depression or has physical symptoms that are not going away or worsening and are causing you concern it may be a good idea to make an appointment with your GP.
Children pick up your fears and anxieties like a sponge so be aware of your actions and words. Remove your focus from the ‘issue’ and begin focussing on the positive things about your child to start reminding them of how awesome they are. This needs to be done in a genuine way, telling your child how much you love them certainly helps, but acknowledging specific positive behaviour or achievements is much more effective. For example, if your child draws a picture saying how good it is and how clever they are is nice, but specifically telling them what you like about the picture is more genuine and will really begin to rebuild their self-esteem.
If you would like more help and guidance Hypnotherapy can help. Depending on the age of your child I may firstly work with you the parent. Using a combination of psychotherapy (talking therapy) and relaxation, the technique works gently with your inner thought patterns to help you retake control, identify solutions and begin making positive life changes which in turn will positively impact on your child. I will then use much the same techniques with your child and together, as a team, we can boost their self-esteem, remove their focus from the problem and re-build confidence, calmness and the emotional resilience to move forward in life.