Mental Health For Your Child

Mental Health For Your Child

Mental Health For Your Child 2560 1707 Peyton Rockford

Mental Health For Your Child

Life is busy. To do lists and obligations only grow. And on top of it all, we know we should tend to our kids’ mental health. But how do we do that when we rarely have time to tend to our own mental health? What if I told you that you could check things off your list AND improve your own mental health and that of your kids?

With just a few tips and tricks you will be able to not only teach your child how to express, promote, and practice taking care of their mental health, but you will also be able to work alongside them in practicing the same things! 

When you make time for your own mental health, you are opening up your child to the power of vulnerability. In that vulnerability you can come up with action plans to flip the script on mental health. As you talk about mental health with your children you are promoting all-around wellness. Not only that, but you are also setting an example for which your child can live by. Here are a few ways you can promote your child’s mental health: 

Maintain routines

Maintaining routines helps children feel safe while also establishing a foundation of habits they will carry throughout their lifetime. Having predictable routines induces a sense of safety and security in your child’s life. With a predictable routine, trust is built between a caretaker and a child. Through that trust, the child’s mental health is fostered. Some habits and routines worth considering are: making beds in the morning, doing homework before having screen time, taking dishes to the sink after eating, reading before bed, having dinner together at a set time, etc. Routine building can be fun and engaging by adding visual components for increased independence. You can do this by outsourcing the reminders for routines by printing out a picture schedule. Another option is having a daily routine checklist on a whiteboard.

Model behaviors

Our children are sponges, they tend to look up to us, watch us, and repeat the kinds of behaviors we have. This can result in positive behavioral shifts as well as negative behavioral shifts. The key to maintaining positive behavioral shifts is through modeling the behaviors you hope to see in your own children. If you want your child to be able to express when they need a moment to themselves, model that in your interactions with them.

For example, create a family phrase like “take 5.” Teach and adapt a meaning for what that phrase means for the family. This could mean that the person who says, “take 5” needs five minutes to destress and regroup. Then together, your family can create respectful ways to honor that request. By having a short phrase such as, “take 5” you can teach and model the kind of self-regulation tools you hope your children will develop and enhance throughout their lives. 

Engage in family activities

Family activities promote a sense of belonging which in turn harbors trust and security within a child. Having scheduled, planned, and agreed upon activities together will not only boost your child’s mental health, but it will boost yours as well! With work, school, sports, activities, and appointments piling up on the list of ‘to-dos’ on the calendar, it is important to pre-plan family activities so that they have a place on the calendar and are non-negotiable. This shows your child the value your family places on time together and also gives the child a fun family activity they can anticipate and look forward to on a regular basis. Some fun activities could include going bowling, taking turns picking favorite board games, movie night at home, cooking dinner together, going out for ice cream, etc. 

Relax with your child

Relaxing with your child is a great way to practice mindfulness and promote positive mental health together. When you reinforce the importance of taking time to relax and doing it with your child, you are building a framework of what it looks like to take care of yourself while also making relaxing a fun time for your child. Relaxing is individualized, so it is encouraged that you speak to your child about what relaxing means to them. Relaxing could mean reading together, taking a walk, listening to music, etc. Find what is most relaxing to them and practice it with them. 

Utilize Positive Reinforcement

I don’t know about you, but I am most encouraged and energized to complete tasks when I am being told what my strengths are and how great of a job I am doing at them. I am a lot less encouraged and less likely to pick up mindful tasks and indulge in areas that promote my mental health when my weaknesses are highlighted. This is the same with your child!

When your child receives words of encouragement and praise for taking care of their mental health, they are more likely to repeat those behaviors based on the valuable feedback they received from you. When your child expresses their frustrations with a particular thing and asks to take time to relax, use positive reinforcement by saying, “I’m so happy you chose to share with me how you are feeling and what you need at this moment.” By acknowledging what they did, they are able to internalize the action they did that elicited a positive response. 

Incorporating the topic of mental health for your children and into your home might not be easy at first. However, with time and consistency, you and your child will develop a rhythm that ultimately fosters mental health. Each step towards promoting you and your child’s mental health is a step towards overall wellness. Take your time as you delve into the practice of taking care of your child’s mental health. 

While promoting mental health for your child can be helpful, it is not a substitute for professional mental health treatment. If your child is struggling with mental health issues, it’s best to seek support from a licensed mental health professional. Thrive Collective can help.

About the author: Thrive Collective’s intern, Peyton Rockford, specializes in child welfare. Peyton enjoys curling up under a blanket with a cup of black coffee and reading the next best memoir.