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To: Lucy Powell MP

Include Children's Emotional Development in all parenting classes

Include Children's Emotional Development in all parenting classes

Teach the importance of children's emotional needs and development in all parenting classes. And provide information/advice to help with the emotional needs of the immediate family members.

Why is this important?

The emotional development of children is crucial and provides the tools needed to negotiate life as an adult.

I support the Government's initiative to include mental health education in schools, but what if this was taken a step further? What if we tried to instil good mental health from day one?

By school age, a child is becoming more social and prefers to play with friends. They can express feelings, they have much better control over their feelings and might have fewer unexpected outbursts of anger and sadness. They still need lots of love and attention. They want approval and are proud of their achievements. Some children might be afraid of supernatural things (like ghosts), criticism, tests, failure, or physical harm or threat. They can pay attention for longer and understand simple concepts like time (today, tomorrow, yesterday). They can recognise some words by sight. They are better at seeing other people’s points of view, helping them to make friends and meet new people.
{Source: http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/child_development_5-6_years.html}

So by the time a child reaches school, a lot of the emotional development of children is already in place. The school will be able to reinforce good emotional health and support children who may be showing signs of slow emotional development or who appear to be vulnerable. With the two initiatives running in tandem our children are more likely to grow up with a sense of self, regulated, healthy emotions and social confidence. In adulthood this could present as fewer people with anger issues or violent tendencies, fewer people with anxiety, more leaders and decision makers and fewer people trying to conform to unhealthy social stereotypes.

How we handle our emotions is learnt from our primary care givers. They in turn learnt their emotional behaviours from their parents/care givers. An emotionally unaware or repressed parent is likely to pass on confusing or negative ideas about emotions to a child. This can harm a child's self esteem and in some cases can lead to depression, anxiety, addictions or harmful behaviours.

Emotions are important because:
"Emotions Can Motivate Us to Take Action
Emotions Help Us Survive, Thrive, and Avoid Danger
Emotions Can Help Us Make Decisions
Emotions Allow Other People to Understand Us
Emotions Allow Us to Understand Others"
{Source:https://www.verywellmind.com/the-purpose-of-emotions-2795181}

There has been positive change in how emotions are perceived in society but there are still long held beliefs that some emotions are a sign of weakness. This leads to some people hiding what they feel.

"Suppressing Emotions Can Cause Stress.
Suppressing Your Emotions Can Cause Serious Mental Illness.
Suppressing Emotions Can Cause Weight Gain
Suppressing Emotions Can Cause Serious Physical Illness
Suppressing Emotions Can Affect Gut Health."
{Source: http://fitlife.tv/this-is-what-happens-to-your-body-when-you-suppress-your-emotions-original/}

If suppressing emotions causes stress and physical illness, that means that understanding our emotions and talking about them will benefit everyone. For employers, a nation with improved health will be more productive as there will be fewer sick days and a more energised workforce. For the medical profession, there could be a reduction in minor illnesses which will reduce the pressure on the NHS. There could be a positive impact on violent crime and abuse which could alleviate the pressure on the police and the prison service.

The Anna Freud Centre has a Parent Infant Project (PIP) which "offers a range of psychotherapeutic interventions for parents and their babies. The service helps families when not all is well in terms of how mother, father or the couple feel during pregnancy or after the baby is born.The therapy puts the relationship between parent and baby at its centre, acknowledging the need to understand and to make sense of the impact that the baby has on the parent and vice-versa."
{Source: https://www.annafreud.org/what-we-do/our-help-for-children-and-families/our-clinical-work-and-projects/our-work-with-under-fives/parent-infant-project-pip/}

This approach could be incorporated into existing parenting class models to provide an a more rounded class and a more supportive experience.

Updates

2018-07-02 09:47:22 +0100

This article explains the importance of emotions: "If your parents failed to notice your feelings, help you name them, and figure out how to process them, then you likely grew up without learning those skills. Now you likely fail to notice your own feelings, and have a difficult time naming or processing the ones that you do notice."
https://blogs.psychcentral.com/childhood-neglect/2018/06/the-10-rules-emotions-follow-that-everyone-should-know/