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7 Ways to Support Your Child’s Mental Health

Posted by Christen Barbercheck on

 

In recognition of Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week on May 5-11, 2024, you may be wondering how you can support your child’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being.  

Adults have an important role to play in nurturing good mental health in children through providing safe and secure environments, offering encouragement, support, and love, and modeling healthy habits. Good mental health impacts your child’s self-confidence, mindset, and ability to learn, manage challenges, and cultivate relationships.  

So, how can you help? Here are seven ways you can support good mental health for your child and benefit their overall well-being. 

 

1. Make time for connection 
Love, encouragement, and support are the best things you can offer your child. Make time to connect and be affectionate with your child every day. When kids know they are loved and supported, they feel safe, secure, and trust that they can come to you with any issues. 
Give your child the gift of your attention and encourage their efforts to learn, explore, and play in age-appropriate activities that will help them enjoy the process of trying new things and grow more confident. 
 
2. Make time for communication 
Talk regularly with your child about their feelings to help them feel safe and  comfortable sharing their thoughts, emotions, and experiences, knowing they can come to you with any concerns and receive empathy without judgment.  
Kids learn by watching others, so be open about your feelings too, in an age-appropriate way. Own up to your mistakes, and share how you manage emotions to normalize a range of emotions and how you can build resilience. 
 
3. Make time for healthy habits  
Model and encourage healthy habits that will promote good mental health, including healthy eating, getting enough sleep, and managing screen time. Keep up with daily routines to help your child know what to expect and what is expected of them, reducing stress, anxiety, and frustration at home.   
You can also model self-regulation tools that will help your child, such as mindfulness and breathing exercises, taking a walk, using fidget toys, or getting creative with art or writing projects.  
 
 4. Make time for play 
Play is essential for childhood development and allows kids to build emotional regulation, problem-solving, creativity, and social skills. Encourage imaginative and active play, and use a Time Timer to establish time for independent play every day. You can also help your child build social relationships by organizing playdates, encouraging them to sign up for activities they are interested in, and joining community groups.  
 
5. Make time for movement 
Physical activity is important for children’s mental and physical health. Regular exercise increases confidence, improves sleep, reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, and more. Help your child find age-appropriate activities they enjoy, whether it’s through youth sports programs, yoga or dance classes, or running and playing outside. You might even find an activity you both enjoy!  
 
6. Make time for nature 
Connection to nature has a significant impact on mental health, reducing stress, promoting calm, and increasing joy. Make time for outdoor adventures, such as hiking in the woods, playing at the beach, exploring a local park, or simply enjoying the sunshine and looking out for birds in your backyard. 
 
7. Ask for help 
It’s okay to ask for help. If you are concerned about your child’s mental health and need support, don’t hesitate to reach out to services that can help you and your child. You might speak with your child’s pediatrician or school counselor, or connect with other education services, family resource centers, or mental health organizations in your area to get the support you need.  

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