Like adults, children can suffer from a range of mental stresses. This may be hard to believe as being a kid is often associated with play and a lack of responsibilities and stress.
Unfortunately, this often isn’t the case, especially in the United States where over 17 million children are reported to be suffering from a psychiatric disorder.
It’s perfectly normal for your kids to experience different negative emotions during their childhood such as worry and fear, but they will deal with these feelings better if they are mentally healthy.
As a parent, there a few ways you can help promote positive mental health for your child.
Ask them to share their feelings
Kids will often bottle up emotions and are reluctant to share their true feelings to you freely. This is why it’s crucial to ask them to share any problems with you. The act of simply opening up and letting them share concerns with you is a good way to help in reducing anxiety.
It also shows them that they can be open and honest with you and that the issues they face are also important to you. Keep in mind that children often try to hide away any problems that are impacting their lives. Look for signs of distress and ask discovery questions like “How did you sleep last night”, to get a better understanding of how they may be feeling.
Speaking of sleep, studies have shown that children who get regular sleep have improved overall mental and physical health. Younger kids should try to get 9-12 hours of regular sleep, while teenagers should try for 8-10 hours at night.
If your child is having trouble getting to sleep, try to set a routine they can follow. Limit things that can influence sleeping trouble such as screen time just before bed. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day will also assist with getting a good night’s sleep.
Promote active playtime
Important for their development and for reducing stress or anxiety, children should have adequate time to play. Not only will the exercise benefit their mood, doing something that is actually fun can help them forget about their problems or concerns.
There is a range of different ways you can promote active play and get kids away from smartphones and tablets. Sport is a popular option, that also encourages socializing and teamwork. Backyard play equipment can also be a fantastic way to entice outdoor playtime. This could include swing sets made for kids, slide frames, monkey bars or even a trampoline.
Don’t forget to play with them. It’s a great opportunity to spend some time bonding while having a lot of fun and giggles at the same time.
Sometimes the best way to get over negative thoughts is to stay occupied and creative projects are a wonderful way for kids to express themselves. This can be as simple as providing paint and paper or getting out the playdough.
Creative outlets help reduce stress and worry in kids. One study has also shown that imagination assists kids cope better with pain. So always make sure you are providingopportunities for them to create by providing them materials and encouraging their inner creativity.
Space is important
Sometimes it’s best to give your kids a little space. This allows them time to think and reflect without the feeling that they are being smothered. If you think your child can overcome their problem, it may be wise to let them try first. The more challenges they overcome themselves, the more resilient they will become as they get older.
While it can be difficult not to step in straight away and help, trying to strike the right balance between being attentive and providing support will go a long way in their mental development.