Remember twirling around on the swing set out back? Tummy on the swing, arms and legs hanging down, you’d walk in circles to wind the suspended chains around one another, like a rubber band wound up to fly a toy plane, and then lift your feet up, and zoom! Off you’d spin, around and around again, until the swing came to a brief suspension and then spun the other way.
How about the smell of grandma’s cookies? Mom tucking you in and staying a while when you were scared of the dark? Camping out in the back yard with your best friends?
Most of us can vividly recall some of our best childhood memories.
Can you also recall some of the worst?
Maybe there was a bully in your neighborhood. Blocking the sidewalk, he stood, seemingly twice your size and full of unruly pleasure at making you cringe.
Maybe the bully was in your own home. An aggressive, violent parent, or a sibling with a vengeance.
Perhaps the worst memory was a tragedy out of your control, like a car accident, a tornado ravaging your neighborhood, or losing a parent in war.
Childhood has its treasures, but it’s also a tough time. Kids are not well equipped to handle life yet. Kids are not in control of much, and don’t get to choose who to live with, or how they’re treated. Kids need adults to help with challenges, from the simplest to the most complex.
Somehow we survived childhood, and mostly intact. Each of us now has our own ideas about what kids need, and what kids protection from. Most of us now realize that our mental health (or lack thereof) today has its roots in childhood.
May 7, 2015 is National Child Mental Health Day. Today is a day we honor the issue of children’s mental health.
It takes every day to support, develop and maintain child mental health.
It takes every day to attend to a growing child’s physical needs; shelter, clothing, food, drinks, hygiene and sleep.
It takes every day to model mature, loving lifestyles, problem-solving strategies, balanced relationships.
It takes every day to process what happened at school today, how he’s feeling about things, what she’s hoping she’ll be when she grows up.
It takes every day to do what’s right for a child.
Let’s get started, today.
©Joan T. Warren
What can occupational therapy do to help? Check this site out for links to the answer (hint: lots!!)
Interested in what occupational therapy can do in your local school to help end bullying and promote mental health? Go to this site and listen to the Podcast.