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Why family history is a building block in children’s mental health.

“We don’t know yet how this story is going to end but let me tell you about some challenging times I got through or your grandparents got through”.

With holidays upon us, this is not only a time to gather as a family and reminisce what are we thankful for, but also an important opportunity to foster our children’s resilience. Resilience is our ability to withstand challenging times with strength, dignity, and self-confidence.

When professors Robyn Fivush and Marshal Duke of Emory University in Atlanta focused on the emotional health of children, their research found that children who know more about their families’ histories have significantly better mental health. These children tend to have higher self-esteem, more social competence, better friendships, fewer behavioral problems, and lower levels of stress and anxiety.

It appears that hearing about hardships that our ancestors went through, knowing where we come from, instills the lesson that no matter how difficult times might be, you too can prevail.

So, what can you do to improve your child mental wellbeing, to strengthen your familial ties and boost their resilience? Begin by asking your child “Do you know?” questions to initiate the conversation and then proceed to share family stories, especially those of resilience and strength during trying times.

1. Do you know the meaning of your name? Who were you named after? What were they like?

2. Do you know where your parents and grandparents grew up?

3. Do you know who were your first relatives to arrive in this country, and where did they come from?

4. Do you know the stories of your relatives’ journeys to your family’s new home?

5. Do you know the unique customs of your grandparents or great grandparents?

6. Do you know some things that happened to your parents or grandparents when they were young?

7. Do you know which relatives do you most resemble? What were they like?

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