6 WAYS TO SUPPORT YOUR CHILD TOWARDS GOOD MENTAL HEALTH
Updated: Mar 19
Be A Listening Ear
Feeling listened to can help your child feel supported and less alone. According to Clark (2014) and Sorin (2004), it is important to be open, understanding yet supportive to your child, as this will allow them to feel safe coming to you with their concerns and problems.
Listening to your child can also benefit you in understanding what they are struggling with and how they have been coping.
Acknowledge & Validate Your Child’s Feelings
It is important to first acknowledge and accept what your child is feeling and to do what is needed to help them come to terms with their feelings. This will help them feel understood.
Novick (2004) wrote that downplaying of what they are experiencing and not allowing them to express their feelings can give a message that his or her feelings are unacceptable and invalid.
Unresolved feelings can also put them at risk of developing behavioural, emotional, academic, and social problems.
Encourage Your Child to Have Good Sleeping Habits
Your child may feel the need to prioritize schoolwork over sleep. However, studies by Yeo et al., Fuller et al. (2017) revealed that having inadequate amount of sleep can have negative impact on concentration levels, attention, memory, energy, productivity and mood.
Therefore, it is important for your child to have the recommended 8-9 hours of sleep for optimal performance, health, and overall well-being.
Quality of sleep also matters! Limiting the use of technology before bedtime and having regular sleep timing would be ideal.
Spend Time with Your Child
Making time for your child will make them feel important to you. Find common interests so that both of you can have fun doing activities that both of you enjoy! You can also create a ritual with your child, something that can be done almost every day such as having dinner together.
Studies by Brown, Manning, and Stykes (2015) revealed that spending time with your children has a positive impact on child's academic achievement behavior, and emotional well-being.
Get Physically Active Together
Physical activity is associated with better mental health and well-being. According to WHO (2013), children and youths need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily.
Mental Health Foundation (2013), Hammer and Endrighi (2012) stated that physical activity such as exercise is one of the best effective ways for your child to destress as it reduces cortisol level (the stress hormone) and releases endorphins (happy chemical) in the brain, which help to regulate emotions and alleviates mood. Exercise also helps to improve your child's academic performance, quality of sleep and reduces the risk of developing mental health problems.
If you can't get your child to be physically active with you, encourage them!
Refer your child for professional help
Seeking professional help for Mental Health can seem Like a daunting task but that should not delay or stop you from getting additional support. According to The National Institute of Mental Health (2018), early treatment can help address your child's current difficulties and prevent more serious problems in the future.
We all need help sometimes and there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Remember you hold the power to your child's recovery! If you suspect your child's behaviour is unsafe - talks about suicide, wanting to hurt him/herself or others, then seek help immediately.
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