With so much going on in the world, optimal mental health should be at the top of every intentional parent’s list of priorities, both individually and collectively as a family. There are certain things and steps parents can take to ensure the mental health of their children in today’s world. Remember that every child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. These tips are simply guidelines, and it’s important to tailor your approach to your child’s individual needs and personality.
Many mental health conditions can be effectively treated at relatively low cost, yet the gap between people needing care and those with access to care remains substantial. – Source, WHO
Through open communication, parents can ensure optimal mental health for their children. This can be done by encouraging your children to talk to you about their feelings and concerns. Let them know that they can come to you for support and that you will listen to them without judgment. This can help them feel heard and understood and may prevent them from bottling up their emotions. The reality is that emotional regulation is a critical part of emotional intelligence and this is a lifelong skill children can start learning early.
Screen Time Boundaries
Setting healthy boundaries with technology and social media is no longer debatable. While technology and social media can be useful tools, they can also have negative effects on mental health. Parents should therefore encourage their children to take breaks from their devices and to engage in other activities, such as reading or spending time outdoors. It is advisable to ensure optimal mental health while engaging online is achieved by setting limits on screen time and monitoring your children’s social media use. This will help prevent exposure to harmful content and allow a balanced online and offline world.
There will always be challenges in life, how people react to the situation is what is important. Parents can teach children healthy ways to cope with stress and anxiety in healthy ways. One of the best ways to ensure optimal mental health is to be mindful and to learn to apply techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or journaling. Furthermore, parents can encourage their children to engage in activities that promote relaxation, such as exercise or spending time outdoors in nature.
Enabling Home Environment
Provide a sense of security and an enabling home environment. In today’s world, children may feel anxious and worried about bad news such as terrorism or other threats. To help them feel secure, provide a safe and stable home environment, and reassure them that you will do everything in your power to keep them safe. As parents, you can control your home environment by making it free of conflict and distress. When children feel they can relax at home and feel safe, it contributes to their mental health. Read: What Age Does Mental Health Show Up
Being able to identify when a child needs to seek professional help is a critical part of the parent’s role in identifying the early signs of any mental health challenges. If you notice significant changes in your child’s behaviour or mood, or if they are struggling to cope with stress or anxiety, consider seeking professional help. A mental health professional can help diagnose and help ensure optimal mental health by providing additional support and resources for both you and your child. You can start with the school’s pastoral care designated personnel or school counsellors.By paying attention to your child's emotions, creating an enabling environment at home, providing screen time limits, having open communication and getting the right professional support early; it will be easier to get your child on the… Click To Tweet
Here are a few key points to consider not only during Mental Health Week but all year round
Open Dialogue is important. Encourage open and honest conversations about mental health with your children. Let them know that it is normal to experience feelings of anxiety and stress and that they can always turn to you for support and guidance.
Active Listening is a critical skill to ensure optimal mental health for all individuals. Especially for parents, it is important to take the time to actively listen to their children’s concerns and validate their emotions. Show empathy and reassure them that you offer a safe space for them to express themselves.
Normalize Help-Seeking both for small and big issues. Teach your children so that it is okay to ask for help when they need it. Encourage them to reach out to you, and other trusted adults, such as teachers, and school counsellors. It is important to help children build true connections with a few trusted people.
Promote Self-Care and Rest. Help your children develop healthy coping mechanisms by emphasizing the importance of self-care. There are several ways to do this such as by encouraging activities such as exercise, and mindfulness. In addition picking up hobbies, getting good quality rest and spending quality time with loved ones is also important for optimal mental health.
Promote Self-Care and Rest. Help your children develop healthy coping mechanisms by emphasizing the importance of self-care. Click To Tweet
Set Realistic Expectations to promote optimal mental health. Be mindful of the academic and social pressures your children may be facing. Help them set realistic goals and remind them that their worth is not solely determined by their achievements. They should take the steps needed to be able to achieve their goals. For example rather than waste time on social media, they should put their phones away and get into the flow of studying.
Digital Well-Being is increasingly important when it comes to mental health. In today’s digital age, it is crucial to monitor your child’s online activities and promote healthy screen time habits. Set boundaries and establish technology-free zones to ensure they have time to disconnect and engage in offline activities.
Lead by Example as a Parent. Because we all know that children often mirror the behaviour of their parents. Take care of your own mental health and demonstrate healthy coping strategies. This will show your children the importance of being intentional.
Remember, supporting mental health is an ongoing journey. If you or your child are struggling with mental health issues, please don’t hesitate to reach out to mental health professionals or organizations in your community. Together, we can create a strong support system for our children and promote a culture of understanding and compassion surrounding mental health.