How to Improve Your Child’s Mental Health By Ms. Ashley Borris

Most parents try their best to provide their children with nutritious foods, with medical care, with clothing and shelter. But are we so focused of the physical well-being of our children that we do not pay much attention to their metal well-being?

A child’s mental health is just as important as their physical health, particularly when it comes to dealing with stress, behaviour, and academics.

Here are 8 ways to Improve your child’s mental health:

1. Take Care of Your Own Mental Health First

Make sure that you yourself are mentally healthy.

Children tend to model what they see. Allow your child to witness and model healthy ways of dealing with stress or depression instead of lashing out. Create that healthy environment for your child.

If you need to seek therapy or medication, please reach out to a doctor.

2. Foster Healthy Relationships

The relationship kids have with their parents is vital, but it is not the only relationship that matters.

A mentally healthy child will have a number of relationships with other family members, such as grandparents and cousins, as well as friends and neighbours.

Give your children the opportunity to connect with other people-especially best friends. Maintaining these relationships can make all the difference in the world to your child’s mental health.

3. Be Consistent

Children crave routine and structure.

It’s common for kids to withdraw, grow anxious, or begin acting out when there is no structure and things are changing constantly. Maintaining consistent discipline and ensuring your kids know what to expect when they break rules or what privileges they have when they do good, will help them manage their feelings better.

4. Teach Stress Management

While it’s important to protect your child from trauma like abuse and bullying, you can’t prevent your child from experiencing stress. Stress is a normal part of life and learning to deal with it in a healthy way now will set your child up for success in the future.

For instance, they are bound to have disagreements with friends and failed homework assignments at one time or another. Give your kids the skills they need to deal with those circumstances in order to build their mental strength.

5. Establish Healthy Habits

A healthy diet, a good night’s sleep, and plenty of exercises aren’t just good for your child’s physical health—they’re essential to your child’s mental health too. Teach your kids to develop healthy habits that will keep their bodies and their minds in good shape.

6. Develop Self-Esteem

Helping children develop their self-esteem, which can give a significant boost to their mental health, is two-fold for a parent.

Here are some ways to help your kids develop healthy self-esteem.

  • Praise their efforts. Compliment or reward them for doing good.
  • Give opportunities for independence. Kids feel better about themselves when they’re able to do things on their own. So whether you’re teaching your children how to attend an online class or you’re showing them that you trust them to make their own sandwich, kids feel good about themselves when they’re able to demonstrate competence.
  • Help your child develop healthy self-talk. Develop a healthier inner dialogue. When your child says negative things, ask questions like, “What could you do to get better?” or “What’s the evidence that’s not true?” Help your child draw healthier conclusions.

7. Play Together

A child who is healthy—both physically and mentally—needs to play. Truthfully, adults need play, too!

Take time to put aside work, chores, and other obligations and focus solely on your child. Doing so, shows your child that they are worth your precious minutes.

Plus, laughing and playing together are great stress relievers for you and your child. It’s also a great way to forget about the pandemic for a while and just enjoy one another.

8. Watch for Red Flags

With all the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and what it means for the 2020–2021 school year, don’t be surprised if you notice some changes in your child’s mental health. Be extra vigilant if you notice they are having difficulty sleeping, showing changes in eating habits, crying more than normal, and being more irritable.

Also, be on the lookout for issues concentrating, an inability to sit still, and struggles with focusing on the task at hand. Difficulty functioning in those areas are red flags and should warrant a call to your child’s doctor.

Before you get too worried, though, remember that the problem might not be too serious or long-lasting. Sometimes a little bit of stress can cause a child to display a few concerning signs, but it usually subsides.

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