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What We Can Do to Support Our Children’s Mental Health ”
This past year has taken a toll on people’s mental health worldwide. Every age has experienced mental health conditions, even children. Kids were uprooted from their school schedule and friends, leaving many of them with questions and feelings of sadness.
Mental health has been a topic of discussion on everyone’s mind, especially in this past year. Here’s what we can do to support our children’s mental health.
Build a Strong Relationship With Them
Your children need to know that they have a strong support system of family and friends who are there for them anytime. Every child should have strong relationships. Ensure you’re spending time with your children every day so they understand you care about them.
When a child has a person in their life that they can talk to about anything, they feel more confident and build resilience. Teach your children to find a solid friend group and make sure that their friends support your child.
Advocate for Open Communication
Additionally, you want to advocate for open communication with your children. This ties in with building solid relationships and trust with them. Be completely transparent with your children. Anytime they ask you a question, be honest with them. This will encourage them to be honest with you as well.
Be patient when your child comes to you with an issue. If you know you’re not going to have enough time to discuss the topic, ask them to hold it off until later in the day when you have adequate time to have an open conversation. Also, when you do talk to your child, ensure you’re truly listening and being intuitive. Accept what they’re saying and repeat it back to them so they know you understand.
Validate Their Feelings
Like adults, children have a full range of emotions. While they may not be able to handle them all at their age, it’s still okay that they have feelings of anger and sadness. If you notice that your child is feeling a certain way, encourage them to talk about their feelings with you.
Create a safe space for your child to express their feelings. Validate them. Sometimes, parents put off children’s emotions or tell them that everything will be okay. However, that’s not always the case. This doesn’t mean that you have to understand or agree with their experience. Be open and curious about their feelings and nurture your child.
Create a Positive Home Environment
You can also support your child’s mental health by creating a positive home environment. Maintain a healthy, stable and nurturing environment for each of your children. You can do this by creating a structure for their daily lives and cooking healthy meals for them rather than going to a fast-food restaurant.
Ensure that you spend time with your children every day and do activities as a family together, as well as making sure your children get enough sleep every night. Also, you can boost your home’s positivity by limiting your children’s intake of the news or social media, which tends to be a root of mental health conditions.
Recognize Signs of Mental Health Illnesses
Children have their times where they are moody or emotional. However, if you notice that something is off with your child, it might be time to look into signs of mental illness and recognize them. Of course, there are different symptoms for different illnesses, but here are some things to look for in your child:
- Being afraid when away from their parents
- Fear of the future
- Withdrawing from social activities
- Showing changes in sleeping and eating patterns
- Signs of self-harm
- Anger, acting out or showing aggressive behavior in general
Keep an eye on your children’s behaviors. When you can notice these signs and symptoms of a mental health disorder, you can get treatment faster.
Let Them Play
Free play is necessary for a child’s development. Researchers are noticing that there is a clear link between children’s play and their mental health. It’s no doubt that kids feel stressed at times, and if they don’t have an outlet, they harbor that stress. That’s why they need to be active and just have time to play in their day.
Playing is known to promote feelings of happiness and positivity. Plus, as children have unstructured playtime, they can learn to navigate conflicts with their peers, problem solve on their own and get rid of some of the extra energy they get throughout the day. Schedule some free-play time for your child to support their mental health and wellbeing.
Offer Them the Opportunity to See a Therapist
Finally, support your child’s mental health by offering them an opportunity to see a therapist, support group or school counselor. Sometimes, children need someone other than their parents or an older sibling to talk to about their feelings and mental health.
If you suspect that your child needs help, then take them to see a professional. Mental health issues are real. If your child has a mental illness, and it goes untreated, there can be severe consequences.
Mental Health Is a Process
As your child deals with the ups and downs of life, be there for them. Create a safe space for your child to experience their feelings and talk about their life with you. Validate their feelings and get them the help they need so they can be on the road to recovery.
What We Can Do to Support Our Children’s Mental Health