It’s no doubt that the instability of our country has one way or another had a negative impact on our mental health, generally. Mental health issues are not only restricted to adults, but can also be found in kids.
Mental health generally includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate with others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood through adolescence till adulthood.
Researches have shown that 1 in 5 young people (13-18 years old) will develop a mental illness in their lifetime if their mental health is not taken care of at an earlier stage of their life. Being mentally healthy during childhood helps children in reaching developmental and emotional milestones and learning healthy social skills and how to cope when challenged with problems, thus helping them grow into healthy and responsible adults.
Mentally healthy children have a way of influencing the society positively, by displaying good morals & behaviours and also functioning well at home, in schools and in their communities.
The Mental Health of kids don’t just get bad overnight, there are several factors that
can affect children’s mental health negatively. Some of them are;
- long term physical Illness
- the death of someone close to them
- poverty or homelessness
- experiencing severe bullying and sexual abuse
- experience discrimination
- having long-lasting difficulties in school.
Understanding these factors will give you a better approach on handling situations positively
and give you the right initiative on how to solve any issues affecting your kid’s mental health and support them in the right way.
5 Tips on how to support your child mental health
Encourage them to share their feelings.
Always remind your kid that you are there for them. Understand and acknowledge the emotions they might be experiencing. Even if it sounds weird, don’t take it with levity, the fact that it’s taking a toll on their emotions is enough reason to take it seriously. If it feels uncomfortable when they open up to you, you can respond with, “I understand why you feel that way” or “It sounds like a difficult situation” or “Let’s see what we can do about it” or that makes sense. These are positive responses that will make your child feel at ease and will make them share their feelings with you more. Refrain from being harsh with your kid’s emotions. Words of encouragement helps and grows them into healthy kids.
Share your emotions, feelings and experiences with your children
Children look up to their parents as higher beings. They often do not know that the problems they are facing are human problems that you also faced when you were growing up. Tell your children about things going on in your life right now and how you feel about some of these things. For example, you could tell them about something that happened at work that got you pissed off. Also, when your child is going through some problems in life, find a similar experience you have had and tell them about it and about how you reacted to the situation. This helps them see you as a human who was once a child just like them, and over time, they will come to you more often when they have challenges.
Take time to support them
Work together on setting up new routines and achievable daily goals. Also, if they feel frustrated, encourage them to take breaks from school work, lay down their workloads and tell them to do what they enjoy most even if it’s for an hour. Help them come up with solutions to issues they are facing. Ask for their opinions on how to solve the issues, and work on those opinions as a parent if you feel they can be helpful to them.
Work through disagreement together
Never try to solve an issue when you are angry. Walk away, take a breath and calm down. You can talk about it later. Take some time to reflect on how you and your child can resolve it. Talk it out with them and try to make them understand your perspective . Children want to understand things. If you do not explain to them, they’ll never understand why you did certain things and would think that you do them just because you feel like or even because you do not like them.
Take care of yourself
When you take care of your mental health as a parent, your child will also learn to do that from you. Self-care is not only good for you, but it also models the practice to your child. Try out different positive Coping Strategies like going out with friends and exercising. This will give you time to reflect on yourself and impact your child positively.