Place2be is a UK based children’s mental health charity. This week they run their annual children’s mental health week initiative. I’m going to jump on the bandwagon and share some tips even though I’m in Ireland! Anyway, how many times have we been informed the Republic of Ireland is part of the UK? 🙈😂
This year’s theme is Let’s connect and they pose the question of how can we make meaningful connections that support our mental health needs.
Why is human connection so important..?
Humans are social creatures and we need meaningful and positive interactions with others in order to be healthy and happy. We learn from each other, create memories together, and form strong bonds with each other that can last a lifetime. Being social also helps us to stay connected with our communities and the world around us.
Building relationships is an important aspect of life, and meaningful connections can help us to feel a sense of belonging. According to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, there are five fundamental needs that motivate human behaviour. Once we have met our basic needs for food, water, shelter, and safety, we can move on to fulfilling our social needs, including the need for connection.
Research in positive psychology since Maslow’s research additionally shows that a sense of belonging and connection has a positive effect on physical health also.
Without meaningful connection studies prove again and again that we are much more likely to suffer from psychological issues such as depression and anxiety.
Benefits of connection:
- Helps children develop social and interpersonal skills
Lowers anxiety and depression
Boosts confidence & Self esteem
Opportunity to learn compromise , patience and cooperation
Mutually beneficial problem solving- Having a peer network to help solve problems that you otherwise would struggle with alone .
Here are some practical ways you can help your child form meaningful connections to benefit their well-being:
You will be one of the most important relationships with your child. Being fully present even for only short amounts of time will be beneficial to model meaningful connections. Taking time to listen to and understand your child’s interests and perspectives will help them when they take steps to form meaningful connections beyond you.
If your child struggles to make friends joining a club or activity that they are interested in will help them make friends with people who share similar interests.
Get social in local area: Make opportunities
- Get out and about in your local area, the park and walkways, to give yourself an opportunity to form a comfortable routine of noticing places and faces.
- Community events– neighbourhood festivals, the next big opportunity might be St.Patrick’s day parades, Easter Egg hunt, Halloween parties or other fun festivals. This can be an opportunity to see all the local clubs’ parade which may help in my next point!
- Let your child see you smile and say hello, wave etc to people in neighbourhood (even on the days you are not feeling sociable.
- Make a family tree – this doesn’t even need to be a family of origin! this can be a good way to model your important relationships and friendships. Maybe take out some old Photo albums and explain how you met your friends-school, groups etc.
Learning how to be kind and understanding with yourself can help you extend compassion to those around you.
As you can see, taking the time and effort now to invest in nurturing meaningful connections with your child will help them flourish and reach their full potential.
I hope the ideas above ease some of your worry about how you help your child make and keep friends. It isn’t as daunting as many parents fear; a few little supportive nudges will have them forming connections in no time.