Living by example – Selvalakshmi Arullselvam

By Volunteer Selvalakshmi Arullselvam, FHI Pondicherry

What better time than now to acknowledge that there is more to health than what meets the eye? With a historical Global Pandemic battle that’s ongoing, it would be fitting to say that all of us have had some of our biggest awakenings in the recent times. One of the biggest collective epiphanies that we’ve had as a community is how mental and emotional health are sine qua non when it comes to a wholesome wellbeing. 

Human beings are wired biologically, cognitively, physically and spiritually around the basic need for expansive love. Now more than ever, we’ve come to acknowledge how human touch is a primitive and strong driving force to thrive. But why is it easier said than done? Why do we resort to brood over our cellphones rather than initiating a harmless conversation while we commute? Why do we walk on eggshells when we encounter emotionally exacting situations? Why do we shun talking about the elephant in the room? 

Why are we so scared to take down our guard and be vulnerable? 

Someone once said, “It is easier to build strong children in the right way than to repair or rebuild broken adults”. A mic-drop statement. 

It would be an understatement to say that the interpersonal relationships that one makes during one’s formative years is the base over which so many toppings later get laid on. Each person a child meets, opens the window to a new perspective and a whole new story that might have not existed until that person came along.  It is imperative to raise children with stories that they don’t have to recover from.

From a bird’s view, family and friends are the biggest influences anybody can have, nonetheless a child. Zeroing in on that, the parent-child connection is the most powerful mental health intervention known to mankind. 

It is found that kids who had narcissistic or distracted parents who engaged them in an overindulgence-emotional undernourishment vicious cycle later grew up to be narcissists themselves.  Similarly, parents who chose to physically abuse their kids instead of implementing negative reinforcements sent their kids on a physically and emotionally traumatic loop. This lack of awareness on parenting, exalts violence and teaches the child a ‘handy’ solution. This puts a spotlight on the fact that children are exemplary imitators. All we have to do is give them something great to imitate. 

Children obtain their interpersonal skills by figuring out what worked in the past. Squarely and sadly, it falls on the shoulders of the parents to reward the good and teach better when the learning is sub-optimal. One of the many reasons it goes wrong for parents who would give the World to provide their child the best possible experiences but to their dismay end up leaving an emotional vacuum is that they fail to realize that children do not experience intuitions, no matter how heartfelt. They only experience what we manifest in time and behavior. It is powerful for a child to know that they are loved through the good, the bad and the ugly.

As a family, it is integral to provide the child a low – conflict environment for the best development. It is found that families who talk about complex situations in open, integrated and coherent ways, help their children to cope with and resolve aversive experiences in a more efficient manner. 

It goes without saying how cardinal a community is in giving a child a glimpse of what the world seems to be. To reiterate, a study proves that schizophrenia has been linked to ethnic minorities who’ve been pelted with racism.

It cannot be emphasized enough, how huge a difference all of us make collectively.  

Treat children as if they are the wisest, kindest, the most beautiful and the most magical humans on earth, for what they believe is what they will become.

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