Mental health can affect all areas of life, including the way we feel, think and act. Taking good care of our mental health is equally as important as making sure that our bodies are healthy. Parents play a huge role in ensuring their children have positive mental health. Parents can help promote good mental health in their children in the way that they talk, with the things that they do, and through the environment they create at home. Learning about the early signs of mental health problems is a great idea.
How can I Nurture Mental Health in my Child?
You can help nurture your child’s mental health by building caring and strong relationships with them:
- A person who plays a large role in a child’s life is the best person to teach them how to be resilient. Usually, this person is a parent or a family member of the child. Children need to know that they can turn to an adult if they need help or support.
- Strong relationships between children and their parents or carers are key. It’s a great idea to spend a bit of time each day talking to your child.
- Teach your children how to respond to any problems that may arise.
Another way you can help nurture your child’s mental health is by helping them with their self-esteem, in order for them to feel good about themselves:
- Show your child love and acceptance.
- Ask them questions about their day, their interests, and their activities.
- Praise them whenever they do something well. It is important to recognize when they have tried and not just when they have achieved.
- Help them come up with realistic goals.
Respecting your child’s feelings and listening to them is equally as important:
- Encourage your children to tell you how they are feeling. Feelings of sadness and anger are ok.
- Ask your child questions and listen to their answers.
- If your child feels uncomfortable talking to you, find an adult that they feel they can talk to.
Your home environment is important too:
- Keep an eye on your child’s media use. This includes internet, TV and gaming devices. It is important that you keep a check on who they are talking to and what is being said.
- Try not to discuss important family issues in front of your child.
- Find time to play with your children.
- Show them how it’s done by taking care of your own mental health. Show them that you can talk about how you feel and that you make time for doing things that you enjoy.
Help your child overcome problems caused by difficult situations:
- If your child is feeling upset, teach them how to relax. You could do a calming activity together, practice deep breathing exercises, go for a walk or ask them if they want a bit of time alone.
- Think and talk about any possible solutions to the problem. Make sure you listen to your child and don’t take over.
Are Mental Health Problems in Children Common?
One in five children has a diagnosable mental health problem. These conditions can include anxiety, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), eating disorders, substance abuse, and learning disabilities. Many more children suffer from slightly milder but as significant behavioral and emotional problems.
Children can be affected by mental health issues at any age, but certain situations can put young people at greater risk of having mental health problems in the future. These include:
- Experience of difficult economic circumstances, e.g. new refugees and immigrants.
- A family history of mental health problems.
- Children who have poor overall health, have scarce education or live in isolated communities.
- LGBTQ children who are rejected by their families or experience bullying.
- Big changes occurring during a child’s life, such as moving house or parents getting a divorce.
- Substance abuse.
- Witnessing trauma – this includes abuse.
Where Can I Get Help?
There are lots of people who can help your child with their mental health, but to get started it is a good idea to visit your doctor. You will need to tell your doctor about any behavioral changes, what your concerns are and whether you are worried about their development. From here your doctor will be able to advise you on the best course of action for your child e.g. counseling. If you want to learn more about mental health counseling then why not look at mental health counseling masters programs from Bonaventure University online? This course will give you the knowledge you need in order to support people with mental health issues and it may even lead to a career in mental health counseling in the future.
Unfortunately, many children find that they have to wait a long time before they are able to get any help. Mental health problems can lead to children failing at school, struggling to make friends or becoming independent from their parents. Looking for the signs of mental health problems and knowing how to help your child is important. Many children who have mental health issues struggle meeting their developmental milestones, so it is important to spot the signs and get help quickly.
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