Many parents are well concerned about the physical health and eating habits of their kids. They seek immediate medical attention if their child is physically ill. But when it comes to their children’s mental health, their approach differs, especially in resource-limited countries. However, the importance and parental concern of mental health is on the rise.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the definition of mental health is a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential. They can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and are able to contribute to their community.
Usually, mothers (or caregivers) can recognize changes in a child’s behaviour early enough to address their concerns on time and efficiently.
6 Tips To Promote Children’s Mental Health
1. Encourage the children to express their feelings
Encourage children to express their feelings. A child-friendly environment at home enables them to share their experiences and problems. Parents and caretakers should act as their supportive friend and be an active listener. The child will open-up, and then suggestions can be given. Children should also learn to recognize the differences between a common feeling and the one that is a little more extreme. They should be well guided that no thoughts are “bad” and shameful as they might think. A growing child or teenager deals with a lot on a daily basis. A supportive home environment can truly help them navigate the world better.
Children will share their difficulties only if they think that it is better to do so and if assurance is provided by the listener. A good listener will listen to the child before suggesting or reacting. This helps children to develop a sense of trust. Developing a friendly rapport with the caregiver will help them listen back. Also, it is better that parents think about the problems at hand and approach them from the perspective of the children. The support and guidance given in these cases is more likely to be relatable.
2. Maintain connections and a sense of belongings outside the home
Children should be encouraged to build connections and relationships with other children as well as adults. Having strong relationships develops a sense of positive adjustment, and self-identification. It also leads to a sense of community and trust in others and in themselves. In addition, a good relationship with friends promotes creativity in children. Interacting and exchanging ideas contributes positively to children’s mental health.
3. Be watchful of the child’s behavior
Usually, if there is anything to be concerned about, it will be evident in a child’s actions and not in their words. For example, a depressed child avoids playing with friends, doesn’t want to go to school, and fails in academics. Also, a child who has experienced a traumatic event prefers to avoid that particular stimulus. They will prefer to avoid being in similar environments. If changes in the behaviour of children are noticed, it is important for the parent or caretaker to try and understand what is going on and offer appropriate help. This will construct a pavement towards the early management of the child’s issues.
Always seek immediate help if a child engages himself/herself in an unsafe behavior or talks about hurting themselves or someone else. Early detection and treatment of the problem will avoid more serious problems in the future.
4. Encourage creativity and let your kid fail
Every child is different and is also gifted differently. It is the duty of the adult in charge to encourage and motivate the child to explore their creativity. Some examples are in games, sports, art, writing, dance, horticulture, photography, music, acting and so on. It’s important the child is allowed to express themselves differently, even if the methods of expression seem odd and unique. Allowing the child’s creativity to flow in different ways shows them they are valued for their uniqueness. Moreover, they are heard for being themselves. This plays an important part in self-worth, confidence and ultimately mental health.
When your child does fail, which they will, researchers confirm that that “failure” builds resilience. It encourages growth and development of the child’s potential to face the problems. So, it is important to watch the way children solve problems on their own. It’s okay when they fail and fall as long as the child is safe.
5. Promote the child’s physical health
A healthy physical body is key to a healthy mind. For maintaining and promoting a child’s physical health, they should be guided for healthy eating habits. In addition, practice regular exercise and get adequate sleep. These factors are the key to keeping children physically healthy, and are also the base for their good mental health.
6. Seek medical help when needed
Parents and caregivers should seek help from a paediatrician or a mental health professional when they notice warning signs in their child. Some of these warning signs include:
- A decline in the child’s academic performance
- They seems worried, depressed, sad or irritated for no apparent reason
- The child refuses to go to school or take part in normal children’s activities
- They experience repeated nightmares