What Can Parents Do to Build Mental Wellness in Children?

You may be concerned about the mental health of your children to a different degree at the moment.

Hopefully, you’re not helpless about your kid’s wellbeing but whatever concerns you may have, there’s something you can do about it.

Here are ways you can take charge of the process of building the mental wellness of your children:

Get some basic knowledge in the space of mental health and mental wellness of children

As you may not know it all, you should be prepared to learn about child mental health and wellness.

Using a reliable resource of learning about mental wellness and mental health early on can save you a lot of money and stress in the future.

You can visit the Children Mental Health section of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website to learn more about child mental health.

Communicate patiently and tactfully to know what is going on
You may want to find out about the experiences that your child may be going through.

Kids may not have the maturity to seek counsel as adults, so you may have to communicate learn from them by asking questions that will make them talk to you.

It is important to communicate with kids at their levels to keep them mentally confident.

Also Check Out: Teen Study Reveals Dangerous Chemicals in Cosmetics

Constantly talking with your kids will help them build their mental wellness by making them feel connected.

Employ the services of experts where the situation is out of your control
In the event of serious mental health development concerns, this is where parents should be able to discover signs of behavior change early enough.

Seeking the help of experts does not mean that you’re neglecting your responsibility.

It might be the most responsible thing to ask for experts to help you make the child have a clearer direction to grow better in body and mind.

Many cases can arise that need expert assistance.

For example, if you feel that your child is not eating well enough or their mood changed.

You can seek the pediatrician’s help to see what they can do to improve their diet or other emotional cases.

Be aware of the spaces where children can be more vulnerable and work on helping the child build their relationships.

As part of your responsibility to build mental wellness in your child, as a parent, you should know the probability of your child facing some challenges to their emotional and mental wellbeing.

Moments at home can be used to talk about how your kids can build good and positive rapport with others and give them a perfect foundation to survive negative vibes.

The theme of mental resilience is common in the subject of childhood wellness and you should apply it as soon as possible.

Teach survival and resilience skills to survive abuse

The essence of knowing about the potential challenge kids would inevitably face is to be prepared to teach them how to survive various kinds of abuses.

These days cyberbullying adds to the list of concerns about where your child might face an emotional or mental challenge.

You must teach your kids to handle abuse with good behavior and stand up to situations with the help of other persons to seek redress.

Take good care of yourself

It is agreed in various studies that parents are a reflection of their kids’ person and mind.

As the saying goes, monkey sees, monkey do, kids learn by observing from an early stage.

So, by all means, you have to show all the good behaviors you want in your kids.

If you’re striving to be healthy and in great shape mentally and physically, it will be easier for your child to be well too.

Ensure a healthy environment that will encourage consistent messages to your kids

You cannot expect your kids to behave among their siblings while you fight often with your spouse.

That will mean an inconsistent message and action.

You must also ensure that you can always be a great example to your kids.

Conclusion

The most powerful influence you can have on your kids’ mental wellbeing is from the things they learn from you by observation.

You cannot afford to be non-vocal to give a perfect contribution to building your ward’s mental health.

Also Read: How Do You Promote Wellness in Children?

What is Wellness in Early Childhood

Wellness in early childhood can be defined as the conditions satisfied such that children have their needs met and (they are guided to reach) their physical, emotional, social, behavioral, and cognitive potential.

The excerpts from Deschutes County Organization also posited that early childhood wellness involves preparing the child to have the aptitude for learning, to be able to succeed individually and as a productive member of the society.

Expounding on what Early Childhood Wellness Means

Wellness in childhood entails the concerns of natural-physical development and adequate socialization of the child.

And the task of ensuring that children are well and can grow to be successful is as important as saving a generation.

Responsible parenting must not be compromised and our society should do more to ensure that.

The community shod take the parental role in child wellness seriously as it determines how the community is perceived and how it may be judged from the outside.

How we think about policies on issues of use of contraceptives, the economy can arguably be thrown into the conversations about early childhood wellness.

However, here we focus your attention on the issues of parent’s responsibilities.

Even though the tone of our definition of early childhood wellness is hinged on parents’ role, the aim is to develop a person in the child that will be self-reliant and resourceful for themselves.

Also Read: What Can Parents Do to Build Mental Wellness in Children?

How Early Should You Start

Early childhood wellness should start from the conception of the child and taking care of the pregnancy.

Science has shown that there should be good nutritional preparation for the expectancy of the child and plan for her basic needs ahead of the time of delivery.

Expectant mothers should be healthy as most of the child’s brain development occurs during pregnancy.

Defining the Wellness Role in Children

Parents, teachers, and older persons ought to be nicer to kids that they come in contact with because they can play a part in shaping a world perspective in a young mind.

We often imagine a world where there is more kindness and peace but in reality, things change as we face the experience of the world of good and bad businesses run by good and bad people.

Hence, the basic task of the parents or guardians in preparing the child to be physically and mentally sound is to let them know how to navigate the world of good and evil and the things in-between.

Imagine a child that knows to be good and has a good moral sense of judgment, but is too fragile and may become a target because she’s seen as “unwilling to blend in” or “too quiet”.

Imagine a well-trained child, that has all the basics catered for her at home but she’s bullied in school.

A complete way of helping the child is to ensure that she learns to use her strengths well enough to face the world that is dynamic and sometimes unpredictable.

Conclusion

The bulk of the work and responsibility of childhood wellness or wellbeing rests on the shoulders of parents.

So, you must be prepared to champion the wellness of your child as a parent.

In reality, there may be something you may not be getting exactly right but you can always give more attention to raising your kids well enough.

References

Destchutes.Org, Wellness in Early Childhood. Available Online at < https://www.deschutes.org/health/page/early-childhood-wellness

You Might Like: How Do You Promote Wellness in Children?

How Do You Promote Wellness in Children?

Parents, teachers, and guardians have a responsibility to look after the well-being of kids.

But as children grow older, it is necessary to teach them how to take care of themselves and set them up to become a better version of themselves.

We’ll look briefly at some things to do to promote wellness in children.

Make them feel loved and Listen to them

No matter the situation you want to improve, you have to do so in love and make each child feel special.

While dishing out corrections, children will willingly comply when they feel loved than when they feel that you don’t sincerely care.

Also, try and listen to the children as well.

By listening you’ll get cues as to the most important issues that may be important to help them.

Know about and Guide Your Kids Relationships

Have you ever wondered where some attitudes and behaviors that your kids expressed come from?

If you’ve ever observed something in this line, the chances are that you’re doing well in being a good example to them and you’re worried if they’re picking up some unworthy characters that could have come from outside.

You may want to help your kids to ensure that they keep relationships with better people in the neighborhood or the school.

You Might Like: What is Wellness in Early Childhood

Early Training to Encourage Healthy Habits in Children

According to the CDC, children should be introduced to physical activities to keep them healthy as early as 3 years old.

Remind your children of the potential causes and effects of their actions

Make sure your kids know the benefits of expected behaviors and the unwelcome results of bad behaviors early on in their lives.

Reward Good Actions and Behaviours

Be slow to chide and be apt to praise and commend your kids for whatever jobs they have done well.

Be a Good Example

Children automatically mirror the behavior of their parents.

So, the shortcut to making your kids have a perfect lifestyle and well-being is to watch your actions.

A Journal of Public Health Nutrition established that children also reflect the eating pattern of their parents.

Try as much as possible to have a unique nutritional plan for your children.

We know that there is something called emotional eating, but you must not let it affect your kid’s eating crave.

Another example: if you swear, smoke, or do some unhealthy things, your kids are more likely to follow in the same manner of what you did.

On the positive side, if you show a more positive attitude and lifestyle, it will be replicated in your offspring’s life.

Other things you should avoid to give your kids a better shot at living their best lives is to avoid badmouthing, scolding with negative words, fighting with your partner, or showing your other weaknesses in the presence of your kids.

Conclusion

A tip for parents is to look to guide their children in the main areas of; social, mental wellbeing, physical wellbeing, and personal-developmental wellbeing.

If you have the time and knowledge, you should be better equipped to coach your kids in the best ways to fashion them into being better human beings.

However, if you have observed that things have gotten out of your control, you should go ahead and use the service of experts in specific fields as recommended.

As you have seen there are things you can already change now to improve the well-being of children in your care.

It’s not too much to get trained on how best to raise your child.

Further Reading: What Can Parents Do to Build Mental Wellness in Children?

Organophosphate Pesticide Exposure and Neurodevelopment in Young Mexican -American Children

Organophosphate (OP) pesticides are widely used in agriculture and homes.

Animal studies suggest that even moderate doses are neurodevelopmental toxicants, but there are few studies in humans.

Objectives

We investigated the relationship of prenatal and child OP urinary metabolite levels with children’s neurodevelopment.

Methods

Participating children were from a longitudinal birth cohort of primarily Latino farm-worker families in California.

We measured six nonspecific dialkylphosphate (DAP) metabolites in maternal and child urine as well as metabolites specific to malathion (MDA) and chlorpyrifos (TCPy) in maternal urine.

We examined their association with children’s performance at 6 (n = 396), 12 (n = 395), and 24 (n = 372) months of age on the Bayley Scales of Infant Development [Mental Development (MDI) and Psychomotor Development (PDI) Indices] and mother’s report on the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) (n = 356).

Results

Generally, pregnancy DAP levels were negatively associated with MDI, but child measures were positively associated.

At 24 months of age, these associations reached statistical significance [per 10-fold increase in prenatal DAPs: beta = -3.5 points; 95% confidence interval (CI), -6.6 to -0.5; child DAPs: beta = 2.4 points; 95% CI, 0.5 to 4.2].

Neither prenatal nor child DAPs were associated with PDI or CBCL attention problems, but both prenatal and postnatal DAPs were associated with risk of pervasive developmental disorder [per 10-fold increase in prenatal DAPs: odds ratio (OR) = 2.3, p = 0.05; child DAPs OR = 1.7, p = 0.04].

MDA and TCPy were not associated with any outcome.

Conclusions

We report adverse associations of prenatal DAPs with mental development and pervasive developmental problems at 24 months of age.

Results should be interpreted with caution given the observed positive relationship with postnatal DAPs.

Eskenazi B, Marks AR, Bradman A, Harley K, Barr DB, Johnson C, Morga N, Jewell NP. Organophosphate pesticide exposure and neurodevelopment in young Mexican-American children. Environ Health Perspect. 2007 May;115(5):792-8.

Organophosphate Pesticides

What are Organophosphate Pesticides?

  • Organophosphate-based pesticides (“OP pesticides”) are the most commonly used form of agricultural insecticide in the U.S., including on fruits and vegetables. Recent reporting indicates that the use of OP pesticides in the U.S. is now in decline.
  • OP pesticides have been banned for home use in the U.S. and have attracted significant attention for their known harmful effects on the nervous system. OP pesticides were developed after World War II, based on wartime nerve gases.
  • It is thought that OP pesticides break down quickly when exposed to light and air, and so are favored over organochlorine pesticides (OC pesticides) like DDT. However, it is not known whether OP pesticides ever degrade fully and they have been detected in soil and drinking water long after application.
  • Furthermore, exposure to large amounts of OP pesticides is more harmful to human health than the same large amount of OC pesticides.

Findings from CERCH Research on Organophosphate Pesticides:

From the CHAMACOS Health Outcomes Study –

Mothers’ exposure to organophosphate (OP) pesticides during pregnancy is associated with:

  • Shorter duration of pregnancy.
  • Poorer neonatal reflexes.
  • Lower IQ and poorer cognitive functioning in children.
  • Increased risk of attention problems in children.

From the CHAMACOS Functional Genomics PON1 Study –

The PON1 gene, and the PON1 enzyme that it codes for, impact the body’s ability to detoxify organophosphate pesticides and eliminate them from the body.

  • Children, particularly newborns, have much lower levels of PON1 enzyme levels and activities than adults and may therefore be more susceptible to pesticide exposures.
  • PON1 enzyme activities were elevated in mothers during pregnancy and at the time of delivery compared to when they were not pregnant. (Go to Publication)

Genetic Control of PON1 Enzyme Levels and Activity:

  • PON1 polymorphisms may affect susceptibility to pesticide exposures:
    • The Genetic polymorphism PON1-108 was associated with PON1 levels.
    • The Genetic polymorphism PON1-192 was associated with PON1 activity.
  • Genetic control of PON1 enzymatic activity is different in children compared to adults.
  • The relative influence of genetic polymorphisms on PON1 phenotypes (enzyme quantity and activity) varied in mothers and their children.

Associations of PON1 with Health Outcomes:

  • Certain PON1 genetic polymorphisms were also associated with:
    • Shorter gestational duration (Go to Publication)
    • Smaller head circumference (Go to Publication)
    • Lower mental and psychomotor development (MDI & PDI) scores. (Go to Publication)
    • Increased risk of pervasive development disorder (PDD), a category of developmental disorders that include several autism spectrum disorders. (Go to Publication)

From the CERCH Environmental Exposures Studies

General

  • Eating organically-grown fruits and vegetables reduces exposure compared with eating conventionally-grown produce.*
  • Wearing protective gloves and clothing during agricultural work greatly reduces exposure.

Also Read: The CHAMACOS Study

Maternal Organophosphate Pesticide Metabolites in Urine

  • The CHAMACOS cohort of pregnant women have levels of organophosphate (OP) pesticide metabolite levels in urine 30-40% higher than U.S. national reference levels reported for women of child-bearing age (18-40 yrs old) by NHANES.
  • Based on cumulative OP pesticide dose estimates, 14.8% of pregnant women in the CHAMACOS cohort may exceed health-based exposure benchmarks
  • We also measured 34 metabolites of current-use pesticides and other precursor compounds in urine samples collected from women twice during pregnancy.
  • Detected metabolites may be related to home or agricultural pesticide use in the Salinas Valley, household products, and other sources of chlorinated phenols.
  • More than 78% of CHAMACOS women had detectable levels of at least one OP pesticide-specific metabolite, and > 30% had two or more.
  • The 95th percentile values of six of the most commonly detected compounds were significantly higher among the CHAMACOS women compared to U.S. national reference levels for pregnant women after controlling for age, race, socioeconomic status, and smoking.
  • Findings suggest that the CHAMACOS cohort has an additional burden of pesticide exposure compared with the national sample, possibly from living and/or working in an agricultural area.

Organophosphate Pesticide Exposure Modeling

  • Biomarker comparisons and model results showed that women in the CHAMACOS cohort have a slightly but significantly higher intake of OP pesticides compared to women in the US general population as reported in NHANES.
  • Results from this comparison suggest that diet is the common and dominant exposure pathway in both populations.

Further Reading: ‘A Watchful Eye on Farm Families’ Health’

Teen Study Reveals Dangerous Chemicals in Cosmetics

In Salinas, California, home to a booming agricultural industry and stark economic contrast between the south and east sides of town, a group of teenagers became involved in a University of California, Berkeley research study involving chemicals in cosmetics.

The main chemicals the young students were focused on are a kind called “endocrine disruptors,” which can be found in many of the commercially available cosmetic products in large retail stores like Wal-Mart.

But less than 20% of cosmetic chemicals have been assessed for safety, meaning it’s difficult to tell what effects these chemicals have on the body—especially when applied daily.

California Endowment reporting fellow Vanessa Rancaño reports on the teen researchers who helped bring new light to an ignored problem in the word of makeup.

The UC Berkeley Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health (CERCH) announces the release of a new training course for California’s licensed pest management professionals serving schools and child care.

You can go directly to the course here: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/ training/school-and-child- care-ipm.html

New changes to the Healthy Schools Act in 2015 strongly encourage schools and child care providers to use the least toxic methods to control pests. 

Called integrated pest management, or IPM, these methods aim to prevent pests. 

When there is a problem, pesticides are used as a last resort, and, baits or traps are preferred over sprays and foggers.

The CHAMACOS Study

The CHAMACOS Study is a longitudinal birth cohort study examining chemicals and other factors in the environment and children’s health.

In 1999-2000, we enrolled 601 pregnant women living in the agricultural Salinas Valley.

We are following their children through age 16 to measure their exposures to pesticides and other chemicals and to determine if this exposure impacts their growth, health, and development.

In 2010-2011 we enrolled 300 additional 9-year-old children into the cohort and will be following them also until age 16. 

“C.H.A.M.A.C.O.S.” stands for Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas, and also means “little children” in Mexican Spanish.

The CHAMACOS Study investigates:

  • How children are exposed to pesticides and other environmental chemicals
    • Exposure Assessment Studies
  • How these exposures are related to children’s growth, neurodevelopment, and health
    • Health Outcomes Studies
  • The mechanisms by which these exposures may impact health
    • Epigenetics Study
    • Functional Genomics (PON1) Study
  • Ways to reduce exposure to children and families
    • Community Outreach
    • Intervention Studies

The CHAMACOS Study is a Community-University partnership modeled on the tenets of community-based participatory research.

Community Partners:

Reduced breathing capacity in kids linked to early pesticide exposure

Taking a deep breath might be a bit harder for children exposed early in life to a widely used class of pesticides in agriculture, according to a new paper by UC Berkeley researchers.

The greater the pesticide exposure, the smaller the lungs, a new study finds.

A new study has linked the levels of organophosphate pesticide metabolites in the urine of 279 children living in California’s Salinas Valley with decreased lung function.

Also Read: What is Wellness in Early Childhood

Each tenfold increase in concentrations of organophosphate metabolites was associated with a 159-milliliter decrease in lung function, or about 8 percent less air, on average, when blowing out a candle.

The magnitude of this decrease is similar to a child’s secondhand smoke exposure from his or her mother.

The findings, published today in the journal Thorax, are the first to link chronic, low-level exposures to organophosphate pesticides – chemicals that target the nervous system – to lung health for children.

“Researchers have described breathing problems in agricultural workers who are exposed to these pesticides, but these new findings are about children who live in an agricultural area where the organophosphates are being used,” said study senior author Brenda Eskenazi, a professor of epidemiology and of maternal and child health. “This is the first evidence suggesting that children exposed to organophosphates have poorer lung function.”

The children were part of the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS), a longitudinal study in which the researchers follow children from the time they are in the womb up to adolescence.

The researchers collected urine samples five times throughout the children’s lives, from age 6 months to 5 years, and measured the levels of organophosphate pesticide metabolites each time.

When the children were 7 years old, they were given a spirometry test to measure the amount of air they could exhale.

The study accounted for other factors that could affect the results, such as whether the mothers smoked, air pollution, presence of mold or pets in the home and proximity to highways.

“The kids in our study with higher pesticide exposure had lower breathing capacity,” said study lead author Rachel Raanan, who conducted the research while she was a postdoctoral scholar in Eskenazi’s lab.

“If the reduced lung function persists into adulthood, it could leave our participants at greater risk of developing respiratory problems like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).”

The study did not examine the pathways for the children’s exposure to pesticides, but the researchers did recommend that farmworkers remove their work clothes and shoes before entering their homes.

They also suggested that when nearby fields are being sprayed with pesticides, children be kept away and, if indoors, windows should be closed.

Pesticide exposure can also be reduced by washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.

“This study adds exposure to organophosphate pesticides to the growing list of environmental exposures – including air pollution, indoor cook-stove smoke, and environmental tobacco smoke – that could be harmful to the developing lungs of children,” said Raanan. “Given they are still used worldwide, we believe our findings deserve further attention.”

The authors noted that although organophosphate pesticides are still widely used, most residential uses of organophosphate pesticides in the United States were phased out in the mid-2000s.

In California, use of organophosphates in agriculture has also declined significantly from 6.4 million pounds in 2000, when the study began, to 3.5 million pounds in 2013, the year with the most recent pesticide use data.

Just last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed eliminating all agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos, one of the most heavily used organophosphates, and others are also under evaluation, steps that will continue the trend of declining use.

“Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is an increasing cause of death around the world,” said study co-author and pulmonary specialist Dr. John Balmes, a UC Berkeley professor of environmental health sciences with a joint appointment at the UC San Francisco School of Medicine.

“Since we know that reduced lung function increases the risk for COPD, it is important to identify and reduce environmental exposures during childhood that impair breathing capacity.”

This work was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the EPA.

Raanan’s fellowship was supported by the Environment and Health Fund in Israel.

‘A Watchful Eye on Farm Families’ Health’

C.H.A.M.A.C.O.S. stands for the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas, and also means “kids”in Mexican Spanish.

It’s the name given by Brenda Eskenazi, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Berkeley, for a group studying the effects of exposure to agriculture chemicals on children born in Salinas Valley between 2000 and 2002.

The longitudinal study has followed more than half of the research population since birth.

Eskenazi and her team have focused primarily on three aspects of health that may be affected by these exposures: neurobehavioral development, which, if disrupted, can affect a child’s I.Q.; respiratory health; and growth, including weight and metabolism.

This population sees higher rates of exposure to organophosphate chemicals, which are found in pesticides, than the general population, so there are possible implications of this study for farmworker communities and Californians at large.

Today, the C.H.A.M.A.C.O.S. sample size comprises more than 600 kids.

Not all their mothers have been farmworkers, but almost all have a family member who is a farmworker or a housemate who is one.

With this gradient of exposures, the study can determine whether increased exposure leads to increased adverse outcomes.

Measuring organophosphates in the body is tricky because the chemicals stay there for only a short period of time, but the center has managed to produce compelling reports documenting their harmful effects on gestational duration, attention spans, I.Q., and executive functioning; more recently, findings have pointed to respiratory problems in children exposed in utero.

The study also uncovered a double-burden where exposure to the chemicals can occur merely through food residues, which, because of the quantity consumed over time, can be as or even more harmful than direct exposure while spraying pesticides.

Of course, this means that farmworker communities are disproportionately vulnerable to toxic organophosphates through multiple pathways.

There’s also an important environmental-justice issue in play, because areas with higher spray exposure are also areas with lower socioeconomic status; about half of the children in the study are food insecure.

So, as Eskenazi points out, while restricting pesticides is important to workers and growing children, the issues are complex: Getting rid of agriculture in Salinas is not a solution, because it would reduce job opportunities.

Instead, the industry needs to make agriculture work healthier for the people doing the jobs.

The C.H.A.M.A.C.O.S. team believes that education among growers and workers, along with a movement to grow food more safely and an understanding of the complexity of these issues, is the way forward.

Meanwhile, the research has led to changes in protecting workers, in ways as small as requiring workers to wear surgical gloves.