Many parents pay close attention to their child’s physical wellbeing. They make sure to attend regular checkups and ask their pediatrician any important questions. But what about when it comes to mental health?
Lots of parents don’t necessarily know how best to support and care for their children. For older generations, talking about mental health carried a certain stigma. Thankfully, that stigma is slowly fading away today, and families can begin talking openly about mental health.
Here’s how to support your child’s mental health, starting from a young age.
Understand What “Good Mental Health” Means
What does it mean to be mentally healthy? The answer varies depending on your child’s age. A young child in elementary school will have different emotional and social needs compared to a teenager in high school. But no matter your child’s age, it’s important to understand the signs of common mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Learning how these symptoms could manifest in children at different ages can help you assess whether or not your child needs professional support.
Socialization and Community
Humans are social creatures—we need each other! For many children, learning how to form healthy relationships and gain a sense of community is an integral aspect of becoming emotionally secure.
As a parent, you can help your child build their social skills so that they can cultivate close relationships throughout their life. Furthermore, if you suspect that your child is having trouble making friends at school, or dealing with an issue like bullying, it’s a good idea to reach out to a counselor or therapist for help.
Plenty of adults struggles with setting boundaries. This is a concept that children start learning at home when they’re young. Boundaries serve a protective purpose.
When a child learns they do not have to stay in situations that make them uncomfortable or continue friendships with people who do not treat them with respect, they can find freedom and self-assurance. Teach your children about setting boundaries, and talk to them about what healthy boundaries look like.
It may sound odd, but learning how to manage your time well is actually a very valuable skill for maintaining your mental health. If you’re always distracted or disorganized, it can be hard to feel stable, calm, and grounded. Kids can start grasping time management skills when they’re young. Creating realistic schedules and easy routines for your household can be a great idea.
Furthermore, it’s important not to over-schedule your children. Your kids need downtime to relax and play, too! Let them choose activities that they genuinely love and resist the urge to sign them up for too many extracurriculars.
Communication and Honesty
If you want to ensure that your children can talk to you about their mental health, it’s important to create an open, accepting atmosphere from the time that they’re young.
Let them know that if they ever have anything to talk to you about, you will always be there for them. They do not have to try to suppress their emotions or hide their feelings from you. Finally, make it a two-way street. Open up to your children when you’re feeling down and explain that everyone has good days and bad.
Are you struggling to stick with new habits and achieve your goals? Working with a therapist can help. Reach out to us today to discuss your options for scheduling your first session.