How to Support Your Child’s Mental Health
Parents and caregivers play a crucial role in fostering good mental health, seeking support when it’s needed, and guiding their kids through life. Here are some ways to support your child’s mental health.
Show Unconditional Love
One of the most important ways to support your child’s mental health is to show unconditional love, says Jenni Torres, MEd, a former teacher and senior vice president of curriculum and instruction for nonprofit Waterford.org.
Kids need to understand that we all make mistakes but that we can learn from these mistakes, she says. Make sure you are framing your child’s mistakes as a way of learning instead of communicating failure.
Praise Their Character
Encouragement, praise, and affirmations are all ways in which parents can not only build their child’s self-confidence and self-esteem but more importantly, support their mental health. Research shows that low self-esteem is associated with anxiety, depression, and academic stress, which all significantly affect a child’s quality of life. Low self-esteem can even lead to suicidal ideation.
Spend Time Together
Spending time together as a family not only strengthens family bonds but also gives parents much-needed face-time with their kids to learn what they are struggling with, and what their dreams are. It sends the message that your kids are important and that you care what’s happening in their lives. You also will be more likely to recognize issues in your child’s life if you are regularly spending time together.
“Parents can make time for their children by doing things like having family meals, taking walks together, completing projects together, assisting with homework, or playing games with one another,” says Kerry Heath, LPC-S, NCC, CEDS-S.
Heath says you also should get to know your child’s friends. “Show your children that you care about the people they care about as well,” Heath says. Plus, you can provide input when they are in unhealthy relationships or friendships as well as guide them on how to be a healthy friend.
Talking on a consistent basis means you can help your child problem-solve difficult situations. You also can serve as a sounding board for them to talk about the emotions they are dealing with.
Heath suggests asking open-ended questions. One place to start is to get them to share about their day after school, a party, or a special event. Getting your child to share these things—both the good and the bad—will provide opportunities for you to help them troubleshoot.
“One of the foundational needs of children is to feel safe,” adds Torres. “When kids feel safe, they develop appropriately and learn appropriately. There also is less likelihood of mental health challenges and when mental health challenges do occur, they are just biological consequences.”
One way to foster those feelings of safety and trust is to create an environment in your home where it is safe for your kids to discuss their feelings and struggles, says Heath. You can do that, she says, by being a good role model.
“Children learn by example,” Heath says. “If they see that it is acceptable to share struggles and challenges, they will be more likely to come to parents with their own.”
Source: VeryWell Family | How to Support Your Child’s Mental Health, https://www.verywellfamily.com/how-to-support-your-childs-mental-health-5208688 | Ⓒ 2023 Dotdash Media, Inc.
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