When it comes to our kids, of course, we want to do all that we can to keep them healthy and happy. In our modern, fast-paced society, even children have everyday stresses. Due to this, it’s vital to consider how you can nurture your child’s mental health, even from an early age. For a few simple ideas, try these ten starting points.
1. Teach stress coping techniques
As adults, we have various coping strategies to deal with times of stress. Children, however, don’t always know how to deal with difficult emotions; they may find it hard to talk without a tantrum or to calm down when they feel angry. To nurture your child’s mental well being, it’s essential to teach them various methods to cope. You might tell them to lay down and practice deep breathing; listen to relaxing music; or close their eyes and imagine they are lying on the beach in the sunshine. Perhaps they’ll prefer to relax in the garden in the fresh air or to take a nap.
- Boost self-esteem
Achieving a positive state of mental wellbeing relies much upon developing self-esteem. You can help your child to do this by encouraging them to pursue their strengths; practicing creative activities; praising them often, and helping them to make nice friends. When children are a little bit shy, they may struggle to make friends which can end up negatively affecting their self-esteem. If this is the case for your child, arrange playdates and help them to come out of their shell.
- Plenty of exercise
Kids need plenty of exercise to feel energized and satisfied. Encourage your kid to play a variety of sports and active games, as opposed to always opting for the television. With plenty of endorphins buzzing around, your child will feel both happy and healthy. Kids who establish good exercise regimes now are more likely to prioritize these practices when they grow up. Exercising together is a great way to get healthy as a family.
- Healthy use of tech
Of course, children love to play on Ipads and watch TV; yet overuse of technology can have adverse effects on both the body and mind. Set limits for your child so that they are only using the Internet or video games for a small portion of their day. When older children begin to use social media, risks can arise in terms of Internet safety and online bullying. Have a frank discussion with your children about these issues, to help them to be mindful and stay safe. It can be useful to set a good example yourself, by having times when you put your phone away to engage in organic activities.
- Health check-ups
Healthy kids are happy kids, and physical health is, of course, connected to mental health. It’s important to prioritize those regular health check-ups, including the dentist and eye-tests. If your child uses glasses, their prescription will likely change over time. Remember to buy new Eyeglasses regularly, to suit their changing needs.
- Chat about feelings
It’s vital to encourage your child to talk about their feelings; keeping emotional stresses inside can lead to rising levels of tension and discomfort. Some children don’t feel that comfortable expressing themselves verbally. In these cases, it can be useful to ask them to write you a letter. Writing down difficult emotions is an excellent way to release stress and figure out solutions.
- Establish independence
We all want the best for our kids and to give them all the love and happiness that they deserve. The issue is that smothering your kids can mean they end up lacking independence. The good news is, you can help them to learn pretty quickly, by allowing them to do things by themselves. Before you step in to help with homework, let them try a few more times. When they ask for a snack, show them how to make a simple bowl of porridge, so that they can do it for themselves next time. Simple actions like this will help them to establish independence over time.
- A healthy diet
It’s no secret that what we eat plays a huge role in how we feel in our day to day lives. Too much junk food leaves us feeling sluggish and lacking energy. Ensure that your child gets plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and that they learn the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Getting into good habits now will help them to carry healthy practices all the way through to adulthood. Children are keen to learn new things, and so teaching kids about nutrition is a great way to get them on board with healthy eating.
- Connect with nature
Spending time in the natural world is one of the most effective ways to boost mental health. Ensure that you plan regular days out to enjoy nature, whether to the beach, the park, or the forest. Talk about the plants and animals that you see, collect leaves and flowers to make a collage at home, take pictures, and don’t be afraid of a little rain!
- Teach them self-care
Self-care is essential for kids and adults alike. As adults we (pretty much) have our self-care strategies sussed, but children need a little help. Talk to them about the importance of looking after yourself by doing activities that make you feel happy. Ask them what makes them feel happy, and what makes them feel relaxed. Chat about the importance of simple things like getting enough sleep, water, and fresh air. For self-care strategies, the most simple ideas are often the most effective.
Every child is different, and there’s no one fits all solution when it comes to mental health. The important thing is to encourage your child to talk about their feelings, identify any red flags early, and seek further help if you need it. Sometimes kids behave differently at school to how they do at home; with this in mind, be sure to check in with their teachers often.