When a child is faced with a mental health issue, it can be bewildering for parents, especially if they have spent a lifetime trying to give that child the best life they can. But self‐flagellation and parental anxiety does nothing to help kids in crisis. What panicked parents need is a way to feel like they are part of the solution. Mind Kind offers a parenting philosophy with kindness at its core.
Award‐winning child psychologist, Dr Joanna North, has seen the anxiety, stress and the mental health conditions that accompany them impact families in all sectors of society. Rich, poor, middle class, working class, stepfamilies, high functioning families, single‐parent families, adopted families, lesbian and gay parent families, no matter how loving, no family is immune.
In Mind Kind distinguished psychotherapist, mother and grandmother Dr North offers, not prescriptive parenting techniques, but a guide to rethinking your parenting mindset She aims to help parents become more aware of the types of emotional support children may need. Through following this practical advice, you can help your child grow a strong and resilient mind, even when going through difficult times. Dr North draws on evolutionary psychology, theories of counselling and psychotherapy, developmental psychology, philosophy and sociology, along with over 30 years' experience working with children, adults and families, to give vital insights into how you can help your children through all stages of childhood and all kinds of circumstances.
Whether it's stress or anxiety caused by family breakdowns, self‐image issues, self‐harm, eating disorders or depression, in Mind Kind, it's all about learning the skill of being kind to your child's mind.
Dr Joanna North is a Doctor of Psychotherapy, a Chartered Psychologist and a Chartered Scientist with 30 years of experience working with children, adults and families. She works as an expert witness for the Family Court in the UK and runs a private clinical practice. Her previously published books are How to Think About Caring for a Child with Difficult Behaviour (2010) and Mindful Therapeutic Care for Children (2014). Jo has been recognized by the British Psychological Society with the 2017 CPS Distinguished Contribution to Psychology in Practice Award for her work with adopted children.
Author: Dr Joanna North
Question: Can you tell us about Mind Kind?
Dr Joanna North: My work in mental health with children, adults and families presented me consistently with the same dilemma, this was that when children were anxious the parents became anxious about the child being anxious. This set up a cycle of further anxiety. The aim of the book Mind Kind is to help parents to target the problem not worry about the problem.
Question: What are the signs of mental health issues, in children?
Dr Joanna North: Excessive worry and anxiety leading to depression and cycles of self-harm are the most common problems presenting in children today alongside attachment anxiety, social phobia and obsessive compulsive tendencies. Most (although I must say not all) of these conditions can be dealt with through practical management and attention to lifestyle and thinking. All of this can be supported in the home if parents know what to do. Mind Kind gives guidance on this. If children behave out of character, become angry, withdrawn or are self-harming or out of control it may be time to think with them about what is causing their worry.
Question: How can parents ensure they are aware of these signs?
Dr Joanna North: Creating the right environment for emotional wellbeing is something we can constantly work at. Listening and watching with patience, kindness and empathy all help parents to formulate their thinking. Mind Kind gives guidance on the importance of managing emotional states in children as well as giving meaning to behaviour. All of these acts on the part of parents help them to grow into mindful, authoritative people who can guide and manage children even when life is challenging or children are showing signs of anxiety.
Question: Are you able to tell us a little bit about the mindset rethink Mind Kind offers to parents?
Dr Joanna North: The Mind Kind mindset encourages parents to consider how their own state of mind and values affect their children. It affirms the view that building the right environment helps to build emotional resilience in children and brings to the fore the values of listening and reflective thinking in order to make strong plans that assist children. The Mind Kind approach places an emphasis on helping children grow up into resilient and emotionally secure young people who can seek help when they need it, manage their responses to life and meet challenges as they arise.
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Author: Dr Joanna North