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Weekend: Mental Health Moment

By NANCY J. STEPHANI
All of us are pulled in many different directions, and parents are sometimes pulled to the breaking point with the challenges that parenting brings.
Modern technology is supposed to help, but many times it simply complicates our lives or makes it possible for work to further invade our private and family time, leaving even less time to “hear ourselves think.”
How is it possible to effectively parent much less enjoy our family time? Daniel Amen, child psychiatrist and neuro-psychiatrist, has some ideas worth sharing.
Take good care of your brain, and start by taking a good multi-vitamin and mineral along with omega-3 fatty acids.
Turn off technology and have a technology-free day at least once a month, as a family. This means no cell phones, iPads, iPods, televisions, gaming systems, radios. No electronics.
That means you need to talk to each other and listen.
Read stories, go for a walk, ride bikes (with a helmet), build a fire, cook a meal. Engage in quality family activities.
In our family, we had a rule that you could have as much time on computer games as you spent directly interacting with other human beings. We also banned gaming systems from our home, but we had plenty of board games and complicated puzzles.
Think positively. Tell children daily that you are grateful for them and give a specific reason why they are special. Watch the Disney movie “Pollyanna” together and ask them what they are grateful for.
Teach children how to effectively deal with conflict and discuss different situations with them so that they are prepared. Exercise daily and frequently with them.
Sing and hum with children. Make music a part of their everyday life. Enjoy museums and shows together as a family. Dance and/or music lessons should be a part of their lives.
Spend special time with each child. Help them build a library of wonderful experiences, and they will become yours as well.
Do not let children bang their heads when frustrated or engage in sports where head injuries are likely. They only get one brain.
Do not let them be around people who use drugs or alcohol. Feed them and yourself balanced diets with less refined sugars and more complex carbohydrates. Eliminate or greatly reduce caffeine, for all of you.
Lead by example. Help them set clear goals by doing so yourself and sharing those goals with them. A daily to-do list is a great idea.
And be open to their input on your list. Most of all relax and truly enjoy your children. They are literally your life’s work and will bring joy to your lives if you but let them.
Stephani, coordinator of emergency services at Century Health, is a licensed independent social worker supervisor. She is on professional staff at The Ohio State University at Lima. If you have a mental health question, please write to: Mental Health Moment, The Courier, P.O. Box 609, Findlay, OH 45839.

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