What can you do to support your child’s mental health?
Mental health. These two words seem to be appearing more and more frequently when discussing our children. Schools are appreciating the importance, parents are becoming wiser. So what exactly should we be doing to help improve a child’s mental health? There are many suggestions out there but I have selected five which I believe are essential.
1. Fostering Healthy Relationships
Firstly, it is vitally important that in order to help support your child’s mental health, you take care of your own! Your relationship with your child is pivotal in their life and it is important that your child has a healthy relationship with you, but also others. Give your child the opportunity to have a sleepover with Grannie, arrange playdates with their friends. Can you remember how important those times were when you were younger?
2. Provide Structure and be Consistent
Children crave structure and knowing what types of behaviour are acceptable. Do they understand the rewards for good behaviour? Are they aware of the consequences if they break rules? Are you consistently following up on this? When you are going through big changes (a house move, change in school, divorce…) this is especially important to remember, as establishing a routine and staying consistent with your behaviour management will help your child process what is going on and help to keep some aspects of normality in their life.
3. Be on the Lookout
Every child is different. Some will naturally be shyer or more anxious than others. That is not necessarily a problem, however a change in mood or behaviour which lasts over a prolonged period of time could be of concern. Remember that it could be a change in circumstance or a normal period of development in their life. It is always worth chatting to a teacher to see if their behaviour is also different at school. Are they lashing out? Hurting others or themselves? If there seems to be a considerable problem, then reaching out to a mental health provider is essential.
4. Provide Trust and Build Self-Esteem
Building trust between a parent and a child comes essentially from their feelings of safety and security with you. Providing love and support for your child at all times is crucial. A happy child will be both emotionally and physically looked after. Be committed to doing what you say you will and following through. Help to develop their self-esteem by providing genuine and realistic praise, be a good role model, encourage them to develop new skills and take on new opportunities.
5. Have fun together!
A healthy child loves to play! Being both physically and mentally healthy is so important. Make sure you make time to play with your child. Just one more email to write, just one last job to do? No. Ensure you set aside specific time to play with your child; let them know that they are worth your time. At the same time you will be fostering a healthy relationship all whilst relaxing and having some fun with your child. What’s not to love about that?