Being a child in 2014 is vastly different to being a child a few short decades ago. Children today are bombarded with a highly competitive environment; they are expected to excel in the classroom, on the sports field and at extra-curricular activities. The trap parents all appear to fall into (perhaps unconsciously) is teaching our children they are valued only if they win or at the best at something. It’s not uncommon to hear a mom negotiate with her son, “If you get more than 80% average at the end of the term, I will buy you the latest PS3 game of your choice!”

Our children are striving for recognition and approval to build their sense of self-worth – whether that means hours practicing gymnastics, or getting to bed at 22:00 every night after studying to get those top marks. We need to raise our kids teaching them that they possess intrinsic value – not because they are good at something. If our children continue to grow up believing they are measured by their performance in various different avenues, they will grow into adults who may be looking for every opportunity to fill a void of neediness for recognition, leading to a life of endless unhappiness and searching.

Furthermore, if a child has a particular psychological predisposition, he may be at risk for developing mental illness such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Separation Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder and various Phobias – just to name a few.

So how do we motivate our children to reach their full potential, without putting the pressure on?

  • Allow your child to choose which extra-curricular activity they would like to partake in (even if you had avid dreams for your little boy to be the next best Springbok and he wants to take up tap dancing). When your child gets to the inevitable stage where they want to throw the towel in, remind them that they chose the musical instrument or sport, and like all commitments, we need to see them through to the end.
  • Guide your child to set goals that are realistic, and are within their capability. Remember that no two children are the same, so even with siblings – one may be gifted at math whilst the other a fantastic sportsmen.
  • Focus on the process rather than the end result. Praise your child efforts rather than what marks they end up receiving.
  • Remember it’s about your child and not YOU! Don’t try to reach your own “missed dreams” by living vicariously through your children.
  • Teach your child to find satisfaction and pride in everything they do – and not to rely on others for praise.
  • Try to support your child and encourage them as far as possible; avoid criticism that is not constructive.

If your child is more anxious than you consider “normal”, basic relaxation techniques can go a long way in alleviating their stress. Teach them to breath in slowly for five counts, hold their breath, and then exhale for ten – and repeat three to five times. This extremely basic exercise slows the heart rate down – potentially avoiding a complete melt-down and panic attack.

If you still feel your child needs some sort of intervention to help teach them basic relaxation techniques, consider allowing your child to attend a CalmKids workshop at PsychMatters. These workshops teach kids to keep calm in stressful situations, improve the quality of their sleep, learn to self sooth, develop their self-esteem and self-confidence, and manage their moods and emotions in appropriate ways. We use a combination of mindful games, story-telling with exercises, stretching, breathing, peer massage, positive affirmations, visualisations and relaxation – all the while having a great deal of fun and making new friends.

If your child is experiencing extreme anxiety that is debilitating and affecting various parts of their life, then receiving a formal diagnosis and committing to therapy with a psychologist may be the answer.  

As parents it is our responsibility to ensure our children have a good self-esteem, because a healthy self-esteem is the best precursor for success throughout life.

For more information on:

  • Individual therapy sessions,
  • Our CalmKids workshop (for ages 5 – 7 years)
  • Confident Kidz Workshop (for ages 8 – 13 years)
  • Living Legends Teen Workshop (for  teens)

Please contact reception on 011 450 3576 or info@psychmatters.co.za

BREAKING NEWS! PsychMatters presents the December Holiday Club – Fun for the kids, and ‘Sanity’ time for mom and dad!

The CalmKids workshops will be held this December to empower children with skills which they can apply throughout life. The dates are as follows:

Workshop #1: Monday 1 December – Friday 5 December (9:00 – 13:00)

Workshop #2: Monday 8 December – Friday 12 December (9:00 – 13:00)

Workshop #3: Monday 15 December – Friday 19 December (9:00 – 13:00)

Cost per workshop: R 1200.00 (includes five classes from Monday – Friday, healthy snacks and meals and a certificate of completion). Bookings are now open and limited; book today to avoid disappointment!

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