Threatening that Santa Claus won’t come is violent. How to raise a child without personality disorders?

Threatening that Santa Claus won't come is violent.  How to raise a child without personality disorders?

When a teenager at her aunt’s name day party hears from her parents: “Zosia’s boobs have recently grown! I had to buy her a bra!” she feels humiliated. When dad tells his son that “we’ll end up under a bridge because of our debts,” the toddler is terrified. Paulina Pawlak, psychologist and psychotherapist, talks about how to communicate with children so as not to disturb their personality.

Aleksandra Zalewska-Stankiewicz, “Wprost”: The title of your book is “How to raise a child into a mentally healthy adult?” I wonder what “mental health” means in today’s world?

Paulina Pawlak: There are certain standards that determine whether someone is mentally healthy, but only specialists can assess this. A mentally healthy person is aware of himself and is able to understand his needs and emotions. This is someone who is not accompanied by symptoms of anxiety or depression. He feels good about himself and in his skin. And one more important thing – a mentally healthy person does not suffer. Suffering always suggests some disorder, although not necessarily mental illness.

Can a specialist look at a small child and recognize whether he or she will have personality disorders in the future?

Children are not diagnosed with personality disorders because their personality is still developing and their nervous system will be fully developed around the age of 25. In children and adolescents, we are talking more about behavioral disorders, which can, of course, turn into personality disorders, although this does not have to be the case.

However, when diagnosing young children, it must be taken into account that they are immature by nature. At this stage of life they may be hyperactive or aggressive and this is completely normal. In addition, symptoms of conduct disorders may result from a spectrum or be a consequence of domestic violence. But whenever a parent notices disturbing behavior in a child, they should confront it with a specialist.

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