Rightfully so, in recent years, the mental health of children has become a priority. It wasn’t that long ago that talking about mental health was quite taboo; however, we’re evolving to become more open about mental health. This is a positive development, as it means people are more likely to be open about their struggles, meaning they won’t be left to suffer in silence alone.
As a parent, almost everything about your child worries you. After all, you only want the best for them, and it’s your duty to provide this for them. Part of providing the best for them means looking after their mental health, but just how do you go about doing this? Detailed below are just some of the top tips on how to look after your child’s mental health.
How to Maintain Mental Health for Your Kids
1. Consult an Expert if Needed
First and foremost, you should never bite off more than you can chew. You can only do so much as a parent, and there’s no shame in asking for professional help if needed. For instance, if your familial situation is affecting your child’s mental health, you might consult a family law specialist, such as Affordable Justice. Alternatively, you might consult a child therapist, providing your child with someone to open up to who can also give professional advice and guidance. These are measures that should be taken if your child is struggling with their mental health, rather than precautionary measures.
2. Monitor Screen Time
Technology is an incredible thing; however, it can also be extremely damaging to children’s mental health. With social media platforms such as Instagram that focus on “perfect” looking people, it becomes increasingly difficult for children to be happy with their appearance. To make things worse, the expectations created by social media are unrealistic, making younger people turn to cosmetic enhancements. Moreover, cyberbullying is rife. Even if a child is struggling with bullying at school, they have nowhere to escape to, as they can now be targeted digitally. Therefore, screen time should be monitored to help maintain a healthy relationship with the digital world.
3. Lead By Example
As a parent, you’re your child’s role model, meaning it’s your job to lead by example. This isn’t to say that you need to be happy and smiling at all times, but it does mean handling your mental health in a healthy way. There’s no shame in being upset about something, and you should lead by example by sharing your true feelings. If you’re able to share with your child, they’ll be more inclined to share with you when they have a problem. Naturally, you don’t want to put your worries on your child, so there’s a certain way to go about being emotionally open with your child.
4. Encourage Conversation
Encouraging conversation with your child can be a tricky task, especially when you don’t want to come off as too pushy with them. You want to encourage conversation, but this doesn’t mean forcing it to the point that your child is uncomfortable. Placing them in an uncomfortable situation will actually have the opposite effect than you’re intending. It’s important to realize that you can only encourage; you can’t force. This encouragement can be achieved by creating an open space in which your child is comfortable sharing rather than trying to draw information from them.
4. Look Out for Behavioral Shifts
As a parent, very few people know your child as well as you do. Therefore, if you notice behavioral shifts in your child, there tends to be a reason for this. Whether they seem more withdrawn or more irritable, this is usually down to something that’s bothering them. Try to avoid scolding them for any behavioral shifts, and instead, let them know that if anything is bothering them, you’re there to listen. Once again, you can’t force them to share anything with you; all you can do is create a comfortable atmosphere for sharing.
5. Encourage Openness
The encouragement of openness can’t be stressed enough. This can be instilled from a very young age by telling your child that your family has no secrets from one another. Not only is this important for their mental health, but it’s also vital for their safety. Yes, your child is entitled to privacy, and you should never make them feel as though this isn’t the case. Despite this, though, there are a number of things that you simply need to know as a parent to protect their well-being. You should also be open about this with them so they don’t feel as though you’re trying to invade their privacy.
This is especially important if your kids have trouble with mental focus.