How to look after your child’s mental health
As a parent, you’re probably quite diligent about making sure your child’s health is taken care of. While trips to the doctors for check-ups and immunizations, and preparing nutritious food help your child stay physically healthy, it’s vital to remember that their mental health needs to be taken care of as well. Children’s mental health can affect their behavior, the way they cope with stress, schooling, and more.
20% of children experience a mental disorder every year, making it important to do what you can to help your child stay mentally healthy – though it is worth noting that not all mental health conditions are preventable. In this Pacific Prime China article, we discuss how you can support your child’s mental health.
What is children’s mental health?
In the same way that we have physical health, we all have mental health as well. A mentally healthy person has a good sense of self, can maintain positive relationships, and is capable of managing their emotions. That means regardless of whether they are happy, excited, angry, scared, or sad, they can handle it all. The ability to manage emotions is a crucial skill for coping with the ebb and flow of life, feeling more in control, and knowing when to ask for help when needed.
Children’s mental health is more multifaceted than adult mental health due to the distinctive developmental and emotional milestones that children experience. Children who reach these milestones learn healthy social skills and how to cope with problems, enabling them to have a positive approach to life and the ability to function at home, in school, and in other settings.
Tips to boost your child’s mental health
If you’re looking for ways to support your child’s mental health, the following tips to boost your child’s mental health can help.
Lead by example
Just like when airlines ask passengers to put their mask on first before assisting others, it’s crucial to take care of your mental health to start with. Aside from demonstrating the habits that help with mental health, it also creates a healthier environment for your kids. Remember that children learn by example, so you need to practice what you preach and maintain good mental health no matter what life throws at you.
What’s more, children whose parents have a mental illness are more likely to develop their own mental health issues. If you are feeling emotionally exhausted, depleted of energy, or have trouble eating or sleeping, be sure to speak to a doctor about your symptoms. Mental health conditions that are left untreated can make family life unpredictable, affect parenting abilities, and put a strain on relationships at home, all of which impact a child’s mental wellbeing. The good news is that symptoms of mental illness in children can improve if their parents receive mental health treatment.
Work on their self-esteem
Self-esteem and mental health go hand-in-hand. While you can boost your self-esteem to start with, the next step is to teach your kids how to develop their own self-esteem. Giving genuine praise for things that they can control, such as their efforts, goes a long way in developing self-esteem. Stay away from praising things such as their looks and exaggerated compliments since these won’t help.
Similarly, teach your child to establish a healthy inner dialogue by paying attention to what they say about themselves and asking them to elaborate on negative comments. For example, if they say that they are “bad at math”, ask them what they could do to improve to help them come to healthier conclusions. Another way you can help your child develop self-esteem is to let them do things on their own. Children enjoy being independent and showing that they are competent.
The relationship between parents and children plays a significant role in their psychological wellbeing. Like any healthy relationship, it starts with establishing trust. One effective way to build trust is to create a sense of security and safety. This can be done by ensuring your child’s emotional and physical needs are met, whether they are scared, sad, hungry, tired, hot, cold, and so on. Look for ways to show your children you love them and that they can rely on you to stay healthy and safe.
Children value consistency, honesty, care, and structure. As a parent, you need to be consistent and make sure that your words match your actions. Children benefit from predictability, whether that’s knowing what they need to do next and what the consequences for their actions are, both good and bad. Changes such as moving somewhere new and divorce can be difficult for children to deal with, causing them to withdraw, act out, and more. They will find it easier to manage their feelings when discipline is consistent and their lives have more structure.
Maintain healthy relationships
While the relationship between a parent and child is certainly important, other relationships are also necessary. A child who is mentally healthy will have relationships with their family members, friends, classmates, and neighbors. Children need to be allowed to connect with others, no matter how much you love spending alone time together. These relationships, particularly close friendships, can do wonders for a child’s mental health.
Develop healthy habits
Nutritious food, plenty of sleep, and lots of exercise are not just beneficial to a child’s physical health but their mental health as well. By teaching your child how to develop healthy habits, you’ll teach them how to maintain their overall wellbeing. Studies show that gratitude and mindfulness can have a significant impact on mental health as well, making it essential for parents to incorporate mindfulness activities into daily life.
Have fun together
Play is imperative for children and impacts their physical and mental health. In fact, adults need to play as well. Make a conscious effort to set aside time to be with your child and enjoy each other’s company. Healthy play is beneficial for children in many different ways, ranging from reduced risk of anxiety and depression, and increased happiness.
Playing with your child doesn’t just improve your relationship, but is also enjoyable for both parties. Plus, it’s good for children to see that their parents can let go and have fun because they feel they can do the same.
Look out for red flags
Children come in all shapes and sizes, with some who are more optimistic, others who are shy, and everything in between. However, some struggles can become a reason for concern. If, for example, your child feels anxious about meeting new people, there could be a problem. Changes in behavior and mood that lasts for several weeks could also indicate a problem, as well as issues with focusing and being still.
If you’re concerned, it’s best to visit your child’s doctor to rule out any serious problems. If it turns out that there is a problem, know that early invention can be essential to effective treatment.
Put your child’s health first
Parents need to be proactive about keeping their children healthy in the mind and body. While the tips above can help you tend to their mental health, Pacific Prime China can help ensure they receive the best healthcare possible. Whether you’re looking for family health insurance, private health insurance, or expat health insurance in China, contact us for impartial advice and an obligation-free quote or plan comparison today.
Disclaimer: Pacific Prime China solely represents, operates, and manages locally regulated insurance products and services in the territory of PR China. Any references to Pacific Prime Global Company or Group, the international services, insurance products, or otherwise stated written or verbally, is for introduction purposes about our overseas network only as each entity is fully independent.