We wanted to take a minute to talk about Children’s Mental Health—what is it, why is it important, and what can you do to promote positive mental health?
Children’s Mental health is a complex relationship between how a child thinks, feels, and acts that effects their daily living—their ability to function at school, with peers, with family, and so forth.
By focusing on keeping children mentally healthy, we increase their chances for health, happy lives—successful relationships, good self-esteem, and the ability to reach their goals.
There are a lot of ways parents and other adults can help promote a child’s social and emotional health and thus their mental health—
1. Use Feeling words… The average 5 year old has a feeling vocabulary of 2.5 words (Happy, Mad, and Scared). If a child can’t label how they’re feeling then they can’t manage it. Building their vocabulary helps increase their “power” over their emotions.
2. Use daily routines… Have morning routines, after school routines, and evening routines. Routines help children know what to expect…knowing what to expect allows them to anticipate their day without worrying about what “may” happen. If a child knows what to expect then they can control their reactions and responses.
3. Spend unhurried time in play with your child… Dedicate 15 minutes a day to “Special Play Time.” Put the phone away, turn the TV and all other electronic devices off, and just play. Avoid competitive games during this time…and let your child “direct” the play.
4. Get plenty of sleep! Children need 8-10 hours of sleep a night. This gives their brains and bodies time to rest and process the learning from the day. If they aren’t sleeping enough then their brains aren’t able to manage their emotions or behaviors. Often when children are acting out or having other behavior issues—lack of sleep is the culprit.
5. Socialize with other kids and adults… Your child needs time with kids their age and adults—this is the best way to learn appropriate social behaviors. Schedule play dates, go to the park, enjoy family gatherings—all of these are great opportunities for kids to learn social skills.
6. Let your child know they are AWESOME! Let them know they are unique and that you love them. Feeling loved and accepted builds confidence and self-esteem. If they feel good about themselves, they can tackle any issue.
Everyone stumbles from time to time with their mental health…this is where therapy can be beneficial. Therapy for children is a chance for them to engage with their therapist and tackle emotional or behavioral issues that are interfering with their life. Therapy is usually fun and a chance for the child to have dedicated time for them—it helps them feel important. Therapy focuses on a child’s strengths and abilities to build skills to manage their emotions and feelings. It also helps family members learn ways to promote their child’s mental health and success.
You can go to the Brighter Futures Counseling, PLLC’s Website to read more about Children’s Mental Health and red flag behaviors that can indicate a need for therapy. Brighter Futures Counseling Webpage