In our last blog, we discussed the importance of prioritizing our mental health. This week, we’re dropping gems on how to pass that empowerment down to your children.
If you’re like most parents, you’re on top of your children’s wellness visits to the doctor and dentist, add healthy fruits and veggies into their diets to ensure they stay healthy, and encourage them to stay physically active in sports and hobbies that get their bodies and brains moving. But how often would you say you check-in with your child on their mental health?
Your children’s mental health is just as important as their physical health. The Center for Disease Control estimates that ‘as many as 1 out of 5 children experience a mental disorder in a given year.’ While not all mental health disorders are preventable, there are steps you can take to arm your children with tools and knowledge needed to stay as mentally healthy as possible.
- Model Stress Management
As much as I know you’d like to, you can’t shield your children from stress forever. The truth is your kids get overwhelmed just like you do. New experiences, puberty, schoolwork, and friendships are all elements that can bring about stress and anxiety.
Think about what helps you manage stress (something other than wine) and demonstrate those techniques to your children. Breathing exercises, journaling, meditating, and talking to a loved one or friend are all healthy habits your children can benefit from.
- Practice Active Listening
Depending on how old your children are can determine how often and how much they tell you about their day. Whether your children talk openly to you every five minutes or once a week when they’re in especially good moods, try to take advantage of the moment enough to get a pulse on how they’re doing.
If your children find it difficult opening up to you, consider connecting them with a therapist, close friend or loved one they feel comfortable talking to.
- Help Them Name It
It’s natural for children to have many emotions as they grow into adulthood. Reassure them that having emotions is okay – in fact, it’s a great thing! It makes them human. When they learn to appreciate how they feel, they can also learn to understand and describe how they feel as well. Help your children identify their emotions and teach them how to navigate those feelings in a healthy way.
Encourage them to try things like:
- Taking a walk when they’re angry
- Journaling when they’re sad
- Closing their eyes and singing their favorite song when they’re overwhelmed
Do you have tips on how you talk to your children about their mental health that could help other parents? Comment below or head over to our social media page and share them with us!