Language specialists believe that swearing has been around since the dawn of human time. In my thinking, if something has been with human beings for so long, it must be serving a jolly important purpose.
The thing is, though, that researchers are now telling us that profanity is on the rise. Swearing and foul language can make other people feel upset or attacked, too. So, can we, or should we, immunise children against swearing?
At some stage in each of our lives we will experience the loss of someone to…. death. Despite death having been a part of human experience for all of documented history, it still feels like it is such a taboo subject to talk about. This sense of wanting to avoid the topic is largely, I think, because it is one that comes with BIG feelings and, perhaps, with questions that even the smartest grown up may not be able to answer in easy ways. All of this complexity and avoidance of big feelings can mean that, often, people do not get around to talking to their children about death and dying at all. Children can get thrown in the emotional deep-end without some understanding of what is going on for them and for others when someone dies.
Grief is often used in psychology to talk about any loss – moving school, losing contact with a friend, or even losing a favourite toy or changing houses. Adults may be a little more in tune with this kind of loss for children and find it easier to speak openly and offer support, strategies and distraction. When it comes to talking about loss due to death, we need to be just as open, sensitive, and supportive.
Resilience. We hear a lot about resilience in children and about the idea of being able to raise children who bounce back after tough times. These days, when I ask parents what they want for their children, they are less likely to say that they want them to have a good job, marry well or “stay out of trouble”. They are more likely to say that they want their child to be more resilient – to rebound from disappointments, stresses and traumas, to get along with others, and to respect themselves.
Obviously, parenting is an important part of raising a resilient child. To be proactive, work as a team, be consistent, and use the most positive forms of discipline is more likely to breed resilience in children. These things are good to know….but….
We have all likely experienced the agony of a broken heart and all found ourselves asking “why does it hurt so much?” Humans are predominantly social creatures. Even the most introverted among us can still crave intimate connection. Our survival depends on being part of a group so it is not surprising that when we feel like we are excluded, rejected or someone is no longer a friend, we get strong signals in our body that can be quite alarming.
As infants and throughout our upbringing, we humans depend on secure relationships to meet, at first our basic need for food, warmth and shelter and, later, our more complex social, emotional needs. It is well known that healthy parenting plays a part in developing adjustment. Kids with a secure base from which to explore the world and explore other relationships are generally better adjusted than those without that secure base.