Parents often underestimate their children's emotions. Many people don't believe that children don't yet struggle with their mental health. In reality, mental health problems can start at any age.
It's your job to help your child grow up happy and healthy. Supporting your child's mental wellness is part of that responsibility. We want to help you.
Keep reading to learn several ways that you can support your child and help them thrive.
It's important that you have an open line of communication between yourself and your child. Children need to know that they're able to come to you with their problems and that you can provide a judgment-free environment where they can feel supported.
From a young age, make sure that you talk to your child about emotions (even if those emotions are complex).
Many adults think that children aren't capable of complex emotions. While children struggle with empathy and putting words to their feelings, they're very aware of them.
Children often have "bigger" feelings than adults because they aren't yet used to experiencing them. Because of that, they struggle with emotional regulation.
When you create an open environment where emotions are put at the forefront, you'll be supporting your child's mental wellness.
After you open up communication, make sure that you take that communication seriously.
If you try to tell a child that their problem is "not that bad," (as many parents do), you're telling them that you're not a safe person to come to with problems. Children need to know that you see them as fully-fleshed-out people who have their own problems and concerns.
A child's problems may not seem significant to you. You have adult responsibilities that they don't yet have, so what do they have to worry about?
Again, children are sensitive and they have large emotions. Children can also have serious mental health conditions (just like adults). If you don't listen to your child and try to understand their situation (instead of minimizing it), you aren't being a supportive parent.
As a parent, you need to make sure that your child has enough enrichment in their life. Enrichment is crucial for successful mental, emotional, and physical development as well as overall health and wellness.
For young children, make sure that you're doing activities with them. You can take them to museums, on nature walks, or on small trips. You should consider activities such as arts and crafts and gardening to keep their minds active (bonus, gardening is good for your child's health as well as your own).
For older children and teenagers, try to get them involved in clubs and hobbies. Many children and teenagers enjoy team sports. Others prefer artistic hobbies such as choir, band, or art classes.
These activities also provide an emotional outlet for your child. It's harder to get rid of "bad" emotions when there's nowhere for them to go.
Activities are also great for your child's social skills and development. Children who have close friends and a positive support group will likely have better mental health than children who feel isolated from their peers.
Physical health and mental health go together. If your child has poor physical health, they may suffer more mental health problems in the future.
As we mentioned before, team sports are great for a child's mental health and physical health. You want your child to experience movement and exercise that makes them happy.
If your child doesn't like team sports, look for other methods of exercise that your child will enjoy. Make sure that you aren't pressuring your child to exercise as they may take that as an insult or assume that there's something wrong with their body.
Many children and teenagers enjoy things like dancing, rock climbing, and gymnastics (even if they're solitary activities).
Make sure that you're providing a healthy and balanced diet for your child. High-quality foods are great for your child's mental health. Make sure that you're also eating well.
While it's important to have a nutritionally-strong diet, don't be afraid to let your child have the occasional treat. Enjoying treats in moderation is also good for your child's mental wellbeing.
Children learn from their parents first. Even teenagers, who may seem too independent for mimicking their parents, look to you as a model for their behavior (even if they don't realize it).
It's up to you to model good behavior. Learn coping strategies that you can implement into your own life so that your child sees them as normal. Set and respect boundaries between yourself and your child so your child knows how to set boundaries in the future.
It's also important for you to model healthy relationships. This is often easier said than done. Even if you have no relationship (or a poor relationship) with your child's other parent, you need to make sure that you're not displaying anger, fighting, or any other "negative" relationship behaviors.
Show them what interpersonal relationships with friends, family members, and partners should look like so they can develop these relationships on their own in the future.
If you struggle with your own mental health, consider seeking out a therapist while you're trying to improve your child's mental health. You may need to help yourself before you can help others.
It's not abnormal for children to need therapy. Even if your child doesn't "need" therapy per se, a mental health professional can make sure that your child is on the right track for a mentally healthy future.
Many parents wait too long to get their children therapy. Therapy isn't just for people who are in distress. It can help anyone who's experiencing a mental struggle and it's good for preventative care.
You can support your child through all of their mental and emotional ups and downs. Your child's mental wellness is critical for their growth and overall wellbeing. You want your child to feel safe, comfortable, and happy.
If you're ready to seek out a therapist for your child, we want to meet you. At New York Therapy Placement Services, we can pair you with your perfect therapist.
Contact us to learn more about our services today.