The month of May is dedicated to Mental Health Awareness with May 9th being National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. Your child’s daily experiences contribute to their mental health and ability to feel in control of their emotions. If you are ready to get involved in nurturing your child’s mental health journey, check out these tips!
Implementing healthier lifestyle choices can have a drastic impact on one’s mental health. This includes being conscious of the food your child is consuming, how much sleep they are getting at night and the amount of physical activity they are getting each day. These are changes that can be made as a family to result in a healthier home environment.
Life gets busy and it can be difficult to find time to sit down with your child one-on-one. However, having these types of uninterrupted moments can make your child’s day. These hangouts can be used to play, have serious conversations or simply enjoy each other's company. During this time make sure that you are always stopping to listen. If you show patience in listening to what they have to say, they will be more likely to stop and listen to any advice you have to give.
Teach your child to recognize their feelings and what has made them feel this way. Once they learn to express their feelings in words, they can better communicate with others and ask for support when needed. They should understand that no feelings are good or bad, they are all valid and emotions that everyone experiences.
Be aware of how your child talks about themselves. Are they using positive words or negative ones? Parents often neglect to address their child’s inner bully, which is often the most abusive. In order to encourage positive self-thought, you will need to acknowledge any negative self-thought and replace it with positive affirmations. This is something they will need to work at to build this healthy self-esteem habit.
Providing consistent encouragement and acknowledgment of your child’s accomplishments teaches them emotional resilience. Teach them to recognize when they have made progressive or given effort in school, sports, hobbies, friendships, etc. This makes them feel supported and capable of controlling the effort they give in certain situations.
Talk with your child’s pediatrician about the adolescent behaviors that exhibit potential signs of mental illness. This way, you can better observe your child and any changes in their behavior to have a clearer understanding of when they are in need of treatment or additional support.
Promote learning new things, picking up different hobbies and pursuing the activities that your child enjoys. When your child is spending their time doing things they feel passionate about, they can get more creative and feel more empowered in their abilities. Getting creative allows for them to open themselves up to new perspectives and ways of thinking.
Having unconditional love for your children is the easy part, it’s consistently showing and reminding them that can sometimes get overlooked. Children’s mental health often declines when they feel alone, scared and unsure if they can continue tackling the daily struggles of life on their own. Ensure that your child knows that no matter what, they will always have you in their corner, ready to support them in any way possible.
Children are extremely influential and are likely to mimic the behaviors of the people they surround themselves with. Exhibit the positive behaviors you are teaching to your child. This includes taking care of yourself and your own mental health while displaying consistent positive self-thought. When you see that you’ve made a mistake, call it out and apologize to set an example for how you would like your child’s emotional resilience to be.
With kids spending more and more time on their digital devices, it is important that they learn how to spend their time in a way that nurtures their mental health. Encourage them to build a community of kind, uplifting and inspiring online friends so that they can surround themselves with positive content. Talk with them about the potentially negative interactions that can happen online and how to effectively navigate these situations or avoid them in the future. By monitoring their activity, you can gain insight into the conversations that need to be had to better prepare your child for the online world.
People have become more and more open about their struggles with mental illness, especially online. Your child has likely seen glimpses of people opening up about their journey with anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia or self-harm. Take this month as an opportunity to bring these conversations about mental health into your own home. Make your home an environment where your child feels comfortable coming to you if they are ever in need of support or have questions about their mental health.
For additional mental health resources, visit our Helpful Hotlines.