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The science of social connections is vital in upbringing children in society

HUMAN beings are social animals, and our relationships with other people matter to us. Several studies suggest that good relationships are associated with positive mental wellb eing and strong relationships with family and friends can allow us to share our feelings, and know that we are understood.

They provide an opportunity to share positive ex periences, and can give us emotional support, as well as the chance to support others. We can’t underestimate the power of a relationship in helping to promote wellb eing since strong, healthy relationships are important throughout your life.

The social ties with family, friends, neighb ours, co-workers, and others impact our mental, emotional, and even physical wellb eing. Having a variety of social relationships may help reduce stress and heart-related risks. Strong social ties are even linked to a longer life.

On the other hand, loneliness and social isolation are linked to poorer health, depression, and increased risk of early death.

It is not solitude or physical isolation itself, b ut rather the sub j ective sense of ex treme loneliness that is most disruptive since many people living alone are not necessary lonely.

Feelings of extreme loneliness are sub j ective and anyone can reduce these feelings b y staying socially engaged b y making a daily effort to nurture healthy relationships which can help us feel happier and more secure and can give us a greater sense of purpose.

As a child you learn the social skills you need to form and maintain relationships with others. But at any age you can learn ways to improve your relationships.

Every relationship exists on a spectrum from healthy to unhealthy to ab usive. One sign of a healthy relationship is feeling good ab out yourself around your partner, family member, or friend.

You feel safe talking about how you feel and listen to each other thus feeling valued and b uilding trust. It’s important for people to recognise and b e aware of any time where there is a situation in their relationship that doesn’t feel right to them or that makes them feel less than who they are. It’s normal for people to disagree with each other.

But conflicts shouldn’t turn into personal attacks. In a healthy relationship, you can disagree without hurting each other and make decisions together.

No relationship should b e b ased on that power dynamic where someone is constantly putting the other partner down. In an unhealthy or abusive relationship, your partner may blame you for feeling b ad ab out something they did or said. They may tell you that you’re too sensitive.

Putting you down diminishes you and keeps them in control. In a healthy relationship, however, if you tell your partner that something they said hurt your feelings, they feel b ad for hurting you and try not to do it again.

A family that functions well is central to a child’s development. Parents can help children learn how to listen, set appropriate boundaries and resolve conflicts.

Parents teach children how to consider other people’s feelings and act in ways to b enefit others. Secure emotional b onds help children and teens develop trust and self-esteem.

They can then venture out of the family to form other social connections like healthy friendships. In turn, healthy friendships reduce the risk of a child b ecoming emotionally distressed or engaging in antisocial b ehaviours.

On the other hand, having an unhealthy relationship in the family, including neglect and ab use, puts a child at risk for future unhealthy relationships.

Note that one caring adult can make a huge difference in the life of kids whose family structures may not b e ideal or whose early life is characterised b y ab use and neglect.

That caring adult could have a large influence in communicating to the child that they matter and that they’re safe and have a place to go when they need extra support.

Adults can serve as good role models for children, whether the children are their own or not. Taking time to strengthen and b roaden relationships is good for your wellb eing, and good for the wellb eing of the other people involved.

Building relationships for wellb eing entails: Building the small actions into your day-to-day life; the actions will make you feel good and feeling good about yourself and others is an important part of b eing healthy.

Connect with family, friends, colleagues and neighb ours b oth at home, work, school and in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them.

Building these connections will support and enrich you every day. Be active by going for a walk or run, cycle, play a game, garden or dance.

Exercising makes you feel good so discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mob ility and fitness. Be curious by noticing the changing seasons and savor the moment, whether you are walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling.

Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you. Try something new by rediscovering an old interest, taking on a different responsib ility at work, fix ing a b ike learning to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food.

Set a challenge you will enjoy to achieve and learn new things that will make you more confident. Lastly, do something nice for a friend or a stranger b y thanking someone, smiling or volunteer your time or join a community group.

Note that your relationships matter regardless to your age and b asically having a healthy relationships with others start with liking yourself. Do what makes you happy b y treating yourself well and know that you deserve to treat others as you would like to b e treated.

‚óŹ Racheal Masibo, Assistant Lecturer at St John’s University of Tanzania (SJ UT)-School of Nursing, P.O BOX 47 Dodoma Tanzania. Email: rackelmasib o@ yahoo.com Mobile: 07 17 513 598

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Author: RACHEL MASIBO

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