5 Habits That Support Your Kids’ Mental Wellness
- Gemma Gladstone
- June 4, 2020
More and more reports about suicide, drug use, depression, and aggression have emerged in the course of a few years. These escalating problems in young people have been found to be caused by anxiety and stress, with several contributing factors, including:
- The number of hours spent on technology;
- The income disparity between the poor and the wealthy;
- The negativity promoted by hateful exchanges between politicians, community leaders, and even celebrities;
- The reduced number of available mental health services; and
- The stigma that comes with seeking help.
Although the problem may already seem very serious, parents still need to use their sound judgment when to or not to shrug off their children’s negative behaviour like tantrums. As the first people who earn their child’s trust, they must keep in mind that how they react will affect their child’s mental wellbeing both in the short and long term. If you’re one of those parents who are uncertain about what to do about this matter, here are five habits that can help support your child’s mental health:
1. Keep your ears and heart open
Starting from infancy, children need to experience a caring connection with their parents. This can only be achieved by listening to them patiently, calmly, and attentively. Remember that children not only need you to hear them out but to also listen actively and with love.
For children to learn how to love, they must first feel your love. After all, experience is the best teacher.
2. Nurture autonomy
When we do everything for our children, we sometimes hinder them from learning what to do and how to do it. When we keep them from making mistakes, we make the biggest blunder that actually prevents them from becoming their best selves.
While we’re not saying that you should always agree to what they want, saying “yes” whenever possible will help children make their own decisions. In these decisions, children should be guided by their parents, not only in the beginning but also when they face the consequences of their choices, whether they be positive or negative.
3. Encourage their interests
Sometimes, parents try to fulfil their unrealised dreams through their children. However, you must always remember that your child’s interests may not be the same as yours.
Instead of enforcing what you want them to do, you should encourage them to find their own hobbies that will make them feel good about themselves. Support them in their quest to find and expand their areas of interest and competence, so that these can bring out the best in them while building their self-confidence and identity in the process.
4. Don’t shrug off behavioural changes
Behavioural changes in children can be obvious at times, but they can also be subtle. Some of the changes you should look out for include:
- Changes in their sleep schedule
- Negative feelings or moods (i.e., irritability, sadness, or tantrums)
- Loss or increase in appetite
- Changes in relationships with parents, siblings, or friends
- Drastic changes in academic standing
- Social interactions (i.e., isolation)
- Loss of interest in hobbies and other things they previously loved to do
Each of these could be signs of anxiety, depression, or any other psychological issues. In other cases, these could also be caused by trauma from experience or problems with social relationships (e.g., bullying).
If you notice that something is off, make sure to ask your little one if there is trouble at school. In many cases, children – especially those nearing the age of puberty – will deny that there’s a problem, so it’s up to you to find out as the parent.
Here’s a tip: use kind and gentle words. For example, rather than saying, “you’re really acting strange,” ask nicely “how are things going?” or “is there anything that’s upsetting you?”
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Although you may be the adult in the family, there will always be a chance that you may not be able to help your little one get through their problems alone. This means that you should not be ashamed of asking for help, be it from their teacher, coach, the school guidance counsellor, or even other parents whom they spend time with.
Once you confirm that something really is wrong, you should also make sure that you mention it with their paediatrician. Even better, consult a behavioural psychologist and schedule a therapy session if necessary. Keep in mind that your child’s emotional and mental wellbeing is as important as their physical fitness, so don’t forget to get a doctor’s opinion as it may be something serious.
Children may be little, but…
Because children are little, adults tend to equate the size of the problems they face with their stature. However, this isn’t always correct. In some cases, children also need to spend some time to relieve stress from school and keep their mental wellbeing in check.
Remember that caring for their mental health is important for them to be able to take on the challenges they will face later in life.
So if there’s anything troubling you, especially concerning the behavior of your child, get in touch with us at Good Mood Clinic.
We’re always ready to help.