Slowly but surely, many of us have started becoming more mindful about maintaining our mental health. And this is especially important for our kids, who are still working on their regulation and coping skills. While most children are resilient, practicing mental health habits can pay dividends in their lives by helping them adopt a balanced outlook when faced with tough times. Read on for some simple and intuitive ways to help promote good mental health in your kids.
One of the best ways to build resilience and a positive attitude in your kids? By modelling how it’s done. As adults, we still face daily challenges, but also feelings of happiness, excitement, and anticipation. Don’t be afraid to show your kids how you manage your own emotions. Model taking time out for yourself, and tell them they can do the same if they need to. Watching how you take care of yourself, persevere in the face of difficulties and manage disappointment can make a much more significant impact than another long-winded lecture.
Children often seem to have boundless energy, excited and active even after a long day of school or hours of playing outside. However, many parents reported their children appearing listless and withdrawn during school closures without their usual activities to keep them physically and mentally engaged. Give your kids the opportunity to play, explore their interests and indulge their curiosity. They’re only young once!
While it might run counter to some of our parenting instincts, it’s essential to provide a safe space for our children to express their feelings, even if they’re negative ones. And this might be a good reminder for adults, too: it’s not healthy to bottle up sadness, anger or frustration, whatever your age is. Instead, help them learn how to work through uncomfortable emotions productively, whether they need to talk (or yell) them out, redirect their attention or spend some quiet time to emotionally regroup. Over time, your child will find an approach that works best for them.
Kids can be much harder on themselves than they need to be. Those with perfectionist tendencies are often disappointed in themselves. Introverted kids may feel disliked or excluded. And everyone feels misunderstood sometimes. Help your child find ways to see uncomfortable situations from another perspective. While you shouldn’t dismiss their perception of a problem, it’s also possible that it doesn’t quite line up with reality. Encourage your kids to see the positive, and to help shift their thinking, ask them how they might help a friend going through the same thing.
You know your child best. So if you have concerns about their behaviour or feel that it could be something serious, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional. Your family doctor could be a good jumping-off point, and many schools have mental health resources they can suggest to help your child. With the proper support, you and your child can learn to manage or mitigate the mental health issues they’re experiencing.
How can you tell if your child’s mental health is good? It can vary, but if they are generally content, interact well with others, and bounce back from disappointments, they’re likely doing well. Help them feel comfortable coming to you with concerns and worries so you can keep providing them with the support they need to thrive, inside and out!