Many people are aware that kids are under more stress than ever. The things going on in the larger world are increasingly hard to explain to small children, and school and social demands on kids are more complex than they used to be.
It can be challenging as a parent to help your kids with their mental well-being. The world inevitably is different in some ways than when you were a kid. Helping your child to manage social interactions and pressures from school, sports, and other external influences can be very hard sometimes. This is particularly if you did not experience these challenges in the same way when you were young.
If you want to learn more about the best ways that you can improve your child’s mental health, you need to read on!
Ways to Improve Your Child’s Mental Health
1. Talk to a Professional
Sometimes it is necessary to get a professional involved. This can help streamline the response that you offer your child to their stress and mental health issues. Having a skilled professional involved with your child’s mental well-being can help you both to communicate about their needs and to develop strategies that will make a positive impact over the long term.
A neuropsychologist evaluation can be a great option as well to help assess how your child’s brain is functioning. This can identify learning disabilities and other personality and mood disorders that might be linked with their stress or mental health struggles. Most children with mental health struggles can be supported quite effectively between evaluation and treatment.
2. Use the Language of Feelings
One of the biggest hindrances to emotional well-being for anyone, including children, is an inability to talk about feelings. People of all ages who do not talk about their feelings can end up feeling isolated. This can be particularly true of children who are struggling to understand life and to grow into adult behaviors and emotional regulation. Being able to talk with your child about feelings, both yours and theirs is healthy.
Children often get stuck and avoid talking about feelings because they feel like their problems are unconquerable. This is due to their lack of life experience, but you cannot help them to solve the issues behind their feelings without discussion. Make sure that you and your children both discuss feelings and emotions frequently so that internal confusion can be attended to in a timely fashion.
3. Be Objective About Your Child’s Actions
While it can be hard to take a step back from your child and look at the situation with an objective eye, this can be the best way to identify issues that might be leading to a mental health struggle. Some kids are good at hiding the signs of their frustrations or fears, and it is not until things have become hard to manage for them that you realize that they are feeling this way.
When you can step back from your child’s daily activities and evaluate if they are acting like they are happy and comfortable, you can see signs of trauma or stress early. Often, being able to just bring up a possible topic of stress can help your child unburden their mind about it and get some ideas for resolution. Even if the problem cannot really be resolved, you can help your child to reframe their thinking about these kinds of daily stresses if you are aware that they are feeling worried or stressed about something.
4. Encourage Rest and Fun
It can be hard to find the time for shared fun and creativity, particularly with older children. Teens and tweens like to spend time alone and might engage in fun with their friends, but they will be less likely to spend relaxed time with their parents. This is one of the key areas where parents and teens can improve their bond and help facilitate discussion.
Spending time with your child just enjoying a walk, playing a game, or drawing or painting can help them to calm down and relax. It can also create an atmosphere that opens up chances for a discussion about their day or their feelings. Confronting older children with questions can make them think that you are prying, but shared comradery can lend itself to talking about difficult subjects without hard feelings or fighting.
5. Give Advice Without Pressure
Sometimes your older child doesn’t need you to tell them what to do. There are instances where older kids can benefit more from suggestions about the best ways to handle stress or tough social situations that do not include pressure. As a parent, it is often tempting to try to make your child feel better by directing them to change their behavior immediately.
The reality of parenting an older child is that you often need to offer up ideas about coping mechanisms and ways to deal with stress without telling your child what to do. Teens tend to feel more comfortable and safer when they are empowered, and you can give your child a lot of useful tools for coping with life through simple advice. Handling the stresses of life can be hard for anyone, but having some ideas about the right ways to make life less chaotic and worrisome can be a big help for kids going through confusing things.
Supporting Your Child’s Mental Well Being Can be Easier Than you Think
While it might seem like it will be tough to support your child’s mental health, you can actually provide a lot of key support just by lending an ear and being willing to talk about your own feelings with them. Kids that feel like they can express emotions are often much less stressed overall, and they are more likely to get help if they need it later on in life.
Mental health can sometimes be handled like it is a taboo topic. If you make sure that your child is comfortable talking to you about their struggles, they will be able to lean on you for support and learn to manage day-to-day worries with ease. Always make sure to reach out to a professional for help if you think that your child’s mental health would be better supported by a specialist.