The first stages of life can be a miss leading time in our lives. We start off as infants vulnerable in every way. The tiniest event can help shape the way we are. I like to believe that most people today follow the biopsychosocial model when it comes to treating youths. They are so fragile that we forget, the closest people who communicate with us every day are the biggest influence. I see this everyday as a mental health therapist. The greatest environment we can grow up in is a nurturing environment. Yeah that may sound cliché about facilitating healthy growth but it’s the truth.
The most underrated environmental item in a young person’s life, is their parents. A good amount of non-mental health professionals I have met think that it is just the food, shelter, and toys that create healthy growth. However, imagine yourself standing there all two feet of you looking up at these gigantic things. What are they, they can reach my blanket, they can get my Elmo, OH MY GOODNESS they can get my food! Reading these you may be thinking, yeah these are obvious necessities that every parent would get for their child.
I see far too many times that these parents are not getting what the child needs. An Elmo is not just an Elmo for a child. It is his or her warmth, safety, and companion. Think of having your loved one right in front of your eyes, not being able to touch or communicate with them. The same thing is happening when these children are not getting their companion, a.k.a elmo. They are completely distressed, wondering when they will see their loved one again. This idea is activating the youths stress, yearning to feel some type of relief. Only until the parent facilitates the nurture will the youth constricted brain grow healthy.
Am I saying give the child whatever he or she wants, not necessarily. Do not panic now parents, if you can’t get your children that Elmo or a doll it is ok. I stress all the time when talking to parents, just be there for them. You are their giants the Elmo they need. Letting them use their imagination is the best healthy growth that they can get. Children are the most social people you can interact with. They take everything into account when they directly or indirectly interact. What is the one thing that is constantly around them that they are absorbing, the parents verbal and body language. I can’t tell you how many times when I am in a home giving therapy when just then in the other room, I hear the parents yelling at the other sibling. What ya know the issue that I am working on with my client, is his or her anger issues. Gee whiz I wonder where they get that from. At this point I would take the parents aside and teach them ways they can verbally interact with their children for responses that are appropriate. Naturally the next week they would come up to me with, “It didn’t work.” Yeah of course it didn’t work, even though the child’s brain neurons are connecting at a lightning speed doesn’t implement that its locked in with one try. It takes time, you giants must be patient with your little ones. The nurtured language is happening consciously but mostly subconsciously. If you keep it going change will happen. The youths will remember you familiar giants in more ways than you think.