5 ways to support your child’s mental health
Good mental health is an important part of a child’s development. It helps children build a positive outlook towards life and lays the foundation for their overall well-being. Thus, apart from providing the best education and taking care of physical health, parents should also focus on nurturing the mental health of their children.
Here are 5 ways to support your child’s mental health:
1. Build trust in your relationship:
Your relationship with your child plays the most important role in your child’s mental health status. If your child feels the trust and confidence in your relationship with them, they will find it easier to communicate their honest feelings and thoughts with you. If this trust is lacking due to any reason, your child may bottle up their true feelings and thoughts, which may become harmful for their mental health.
For example, most children who get bullied at school find it difficult to communicate their experiences to the adults around them. This can get especially tricky if they feel their feelings might be dismissed or they might be labelled as weak for being a victim of bullying. However, it is important to confront these issues to avoid the harmful impact of these events on kids. One way of establishing trust is to regularly communicate and demonstrate to your children that you are someone who will listen to them, not dismiss their feelings and help them solve whatever problems they may face.
2. Teach stress management:
Stress is a normal part of life, even for children. This stress might be caused due to seemingly harmless things such as exams, peer pressure or even excessive consumption of media. It is important to acknowledge their experience of stress and help them find ways to cope with it.
For example, some students might get anxious or stressed before exams. If you observe that your child is compromising on sleep before exams, push them to maintain a healthy sleep cycle. Take care of their food habits and daily routine such that the effects of stress are minimal.
3. Establish healthy habits:
Healthy habits like waking up early, avoiding sugar intake, regular exercise, meditation and others are not just for adults. The earlier your child starts adopting these habits, the more they will benefit from them. With the growing amount of consumerism in our society, a lot of children keep pestering their parents to buy them the latest things including fast foods, toys or even gadgets. Help them understand that it is okay not to have everything that they want. Imbibe a sense of gratitude in them to develop a healthy mindset from a young age. Such a sense of gratitude will build self-control and help avoid the influence of external factors on their mood.
4. Boost self-esteem:
Even when the only aim you have in mind is to motivate your child, do not compare them with other children. Unintentionally it may have a negative impact on the self-esteem of your child. A person’s sense of worth is important for their success. If they themselves don’t feel confident and worthy of something, it will be impossible for them to achieve the best in any field.
Help them foster a sense of self-esteem by:
i. Avoiding comparing their achievements with those of others:
Every child is different. Though comparing them with other children may seem to create a sense of competition in your child, it will be harmful in the long run. Help them understand that the only competition they should have is with their own selves.
ii. Praising their effort:
For example, praise them for trying to solve a hard math problem rather than their exam marks. Praising them for the effort they put in will encourage them to work harder to improve themselves without taking the pressure of achieving the end results.
iii. Helping them analyse their strengths and weaknesses:
When your child says things like “I am not good at Math”, instead of saying “that’s not true”, help them analyse why they are feeling the way they do or what can be done to change the situation.
5. Take care of your mental health:
Children pick their habits and behaviours largely by watching their parents. Thus, one of the best ways to maintain your child’s mental health is to take care of your own mental health. This means that when you are feeling stressed or angry, handle the situation in a way that sets a good example for your child. Follow healthy habits yourself to be a role model for your children.
When it comes to nurturing one’s mental health, a one-size-fits-all strategy does not work. Every child is different and so is their environment. Nobody can understand your child’s needs better than you can. Be observant of your child’s behaviour and keep the communication open at all times. There are many ways to help your child achieve good mental health. We hope the ways we shared above, will help you get started in ensuring a happy and healthy mental state for your child.
LEAD organises a Social and Emotional Learning session (SEL) once every week to help students navigate their emotions better and work towards their goals. Social-emotional skills help students manage their everyday life successfully. As a result, they tend to make good decisions and support their community well beyond school.
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