Although adults and children process the world around them differently, young people still experience many of the same anxieties, fears and other mental struggles that older individuals do.
Whether a child experiences stressors at home or while at childcare near you, it is important to know how to approach the topic. Even if your son or daughter appears to be mentally fine, keeping points like these in mind will help you better understand him or her when he or she does face difficulties.
1. Discuss Feelings
In some households, feelings are not often a subject of discussion. Because many parents have mental health concerns of their own, talking openly about feelings can be challenging, even within a family setting. Nonetheless, keeping communication open is key to helping young people express their questions, worries and other problems.
2. Keep Things Simple
While open and honest communication is necessary, it is also important to talk to children on a level that they can easily comprehend. Not understanding something can lead to increased anxiety, even with the best of intentions. For this reason, remembering where your son or daughter is coming from can be helpful. By keeping conversations as simple as possible, you can not only increase comprehension but you can also give him or her less to stress about.
3. Follow a Routine
Instability causes complications for most people. This is especially true for children. Like most people, kids thrive best when they follow a routine. To prevent unexpected changes from disrupting your child's life and creating additional stress, make sure to create and follow a daily routine. This includes scheduling time for eating, studying, playing and exercising.
4. Teach Healthy Stress Management
No matter how much effort you put into creating an ideal environment for your child, there will be times when he or she experiences stress. Furthermore, stressors will increase as your child grows and becomes more independent in settings outside of your control such as school or childcare. As such, teaching healthy stress management skills will help equip him or her with the tools to handle all types of stressful situations, even those when you are not around.
5. Get Them Moving
Nothing helps mental health quite like physical movement. Sitting inside all day playing video games may exercise the brain in some ways, but it does not equate to physical activity. When you create a routine for your son or daughter, carve out time for exercising in ways that are fun. In general, kids over the age of six years old need at least an hour of movement each day.
6. Watch for Mental Distress Signs
Sometimes when children are under stress, they might not say anything. Instead, it is their behavior that “talks.” For this reason, you should watch for signs of mental distress. Some examples include avoidance of normal activities, difficulty controlling emotions, withdrawing from relationships, angry outbursts, difficulty handling regular responsibilities and changes in eating. If you notice any of these signs, try talking about it. Keep in mind, you may have to try multiple times.
7. Make Time for Playing
While things like school, sports and chores arechores have are important to a child's development, few things are as critical as playcritical play time. When playing, children have the opportunity to use their imaginations and express themselves creatively. In addition, playtime helps children balance the more stressful aspects of life. Remember, kids learn differently than adults. Playtime is just as important as more serious activities.
At the end of the day, children's mental health matters just as much as adults'. By following tips such as these, you can help ensure your son or daughter has a healthy mental development.