Constant Communication and Engagement to Monitor A Childs Mental State
Metamorphosis is about transformation. This is a phenomenal part of nature to see literally unfold, watching a caterpillar transform into a delicate and beautiful butterfly. March 14 is National U.S. Learn About Butterflies Day so let’s talk butterflies and transformation.
What may sound unrelated, teen suicide is a problem that became more apparent to me when two occurred in my community within a month! At the same time, I was hearing stories about teenagers who placed bombs in their schools and how other teens described these students as loners, friendless, and odd. A teen that would perform ether of these acts is obviously not in their right mind.
These incidences prompted me to write a children’s book that addresses inclusion, belonging, and acceptance. I am not an expert on mental illness, but I do know how painful bullying and harassing can be and the need for positive social interactions. Bullying can be in person or today, cyberbullying is just as prevalent.
How do you know if your child is being bullied? How do you know if your child has a low self-esteem and what can you do about it? I was volunteering in a first-grade classroom. There was one cute, good looking little boy that the other kids swarmed around. He seemed happy and was doing well academically. It appeared that he was popular and had lots of friends. But I learned that this little boy told his parents that he had no friends at school. I was shocked!
I know of a family who has a 12-year-old boy who was being bullied at school. The boy that was being bullied was an introvert, kind, trusting, and an excellent student. The bully was demanding this boy to do his homework. The bullied boy’s brother found out what was happening and was going to tell their parents. But the bullied boy didn’t want his parents to know. He felt ashamed and scared that if the bully knew, he would be bullied even more! The parents did find out and the situation was remedied safely.
In a world living with a pandemic, children are experiencing isolation in a different form. They have been doing remote schooling and unable to socialize in person with other children. They have generally been more sedentary, have increased screen time, and not able to participate in sports, music, and the arts. Many of these children are feeling anxious, sad, and depressed. Hopefully, these times of isolation are ending, and we will start the healing and recovering process for their spirits and emotional health, as our physical health is protected by vaccinations.
Communication and ongoing monitoring of your child’s mental health is critical. We focus on physical health and academics, but the emotional state of a child is important if not more important. Talk to your child and ask them what they did in school that day, who they played with, even virtually, and how did they feel about the day.
As a you cultivate a healthy child, self-esteem needs to be addressed too. It’s a continuous, evolving, changing and transforming process. As a child learns and is exposed to new experiences,
- guide them in setting goals
- help them focus on the outcome they want to achieve and why
- help them measure progress towards the outcome
- praise them when they reach their outcome
- discuss with them disappointments, unexpected occurrences and re-direction when needed
- emphasize their strengths
- teach them how they can strengthen their weakness
- encourage them to help others and give
- let them know your love for them is unconditional
Be an example to your child of kindness and compassion. Model positive attitudes and cheerfully doing tasks. Show them how to be present and focused on what they are doing at that moment. Guide them in giving to others. Although this wasn’t the original intent, the act of giving reminds me of the quote attributed to Henry Ford, “Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice.” When we work and contribute, the internal warmth received from helping and giving, is just as powerful and rewarding as the benefits received by our actions.
Human beings need the feeling of self-worth to grow and develop into a healthy contributing part of society. Often our relationships and connections to others can enhance or destroy that feeling.
BaBa-Balu Belongs, Too, is a story of a monarch caterpillar who doesn’t fit in. He feels uncomfortable in his own skin which he grows out of 5 times which follows the metamorphic cycle. The other bugs don’t play with him or include him. This causes him to be sad, mad, and even bad.
One day he is so sad he creeps away from his home on the milkweed. He hangs upside down and grows out of his skin again! But this time he falls into a deep sleep. In his sleep he dreams about how the other bugs include him, eat with him, play with him, and invite him to a party! He feels like he belongs.
This feeling overwhelms him with happiness. He wakes up feeling included and loved which causes him to spread his wings and become who he is really meant to be, a beautiful, happy butterfly. This story follows the metamorphosis cycle and includes several of the scientific terms and definitions related to it.
What a great book to share in this time of isolation and in addition, learn information about butterflies. The story is beautifully written for a child 4-8 years old, and full of meaning and substance. The vivid illustrations are engaging, and the bug characters create an enjoyable reading experience with a child enhancing dual learning.
Enhancing children’s sensitivity in human interactions one story at a time.
- Author and Reading & Seeding Leader
- Cultivating Compassion in Children Books Series
- Books Available on Amazon: http://bit.ly/SonjaLangeWendt