Improving Mental Health in Your Child
By Brandi Goodman
Adults often describe work, home life, friendships, and more as stressors in their life that can trigger mental health struggles. What about children? Many tell them that they're young and life isn't hard for them. That's far from the truth. School, home life, and friendships -- or lack thereof -- can also be triggering for young minds. Working toward improving mental health in your child can help have the necessary tools to cope now and as an adult.
Encourage Healthy Behaviors
Stress can plague a child just as it can an adult. Instead of allowing your child to turn to unhealthy behaviors when they're feeling stressed or having a hard day, encourage healthy ones. Ask them to go for a walk with you when you see they're feeling down. Take them out for a frozen yogurt or smoothie. Get them up and dancing in the living room. Healthy foods and exercise are two beneficial things to turn to in times of stress.
Help Them Boost Their Self-Esteem
You telling your child they're smart and beautiful is great. Sometimes, though, the words can fall on deaf ears. They need to actually feel and believe they are those things. Help them boost their self-esteem by having them say positive affirmations to themselves. Have your child stand in the mirror and say, "I am smart." Saying these things over and over can help them start believing it.
Another way to do this is to encourage volunteering or helping others. It can feel good to help other people and boost our own self-esteem and feeling of well-being in the process. Find a cause they would enjoy helping -- perhaps working with animals or volunteering their time at a fun event.
Reach Out to Professionals
If you notice your child is being particularly withdrawn, seeming on edge regularly, or in otherwise poor spirits, don't be afraid to reach out to a professional. You can start with a school counselor if you don't want to go a more formal route. Counseling is a great opportunity for kids to get out some of their feelings and share with someone other than you if they don't feel comfortable doing so.
Children need to start learning about mental health early on. Doing so helps them to have the knowledge and understanding necessary to face mental health crises now and later on in life. Work to help your child build self-esteem and engage in positive and healthy behaviors so they can face the world.
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