Whether you’re an adult or a child, the stresses of life can negatively impact your mental health that makes things difficult to deal with. But for children who are still learning, developing, and growing, these impacts can have a lasting effect that lasts through into adulthood and cause difficulties that are hard to overcome. Therefore, as adults, it is our job to nurture our children’s mental health in as positive a manner as possible to give them the best start possible. Sometimes this will involve some higher level of intervention, but day-to-day, there are plenty of simple ways you can nurture your child’s mental health.
Making time to talk to your child every day is a brilliant way to bond with each other and build your child’s trust in you. Subjects discussed don’t always need to be serious. Instead, talking together about various topics, from imaginary play scenarios to discussing their favorite YouTube channel, you will become comfortable with each other. Then when there is a serious subject to talk about, a child will feel happy to open up in their own time and own way, knowing that you are listening and taking them seriously. Children (and adults too) will often freeze up when directly confronted with a question or problem, so this approach can be constructive in encouraging a child of any age to open up while also teaching good communication skills.
Should a child really be struggling to express themselves, there are plenty of resources available to help them, such as a self-awareness box or emotion cards. Giving your child the chance to explain how they are feeling without struggling for the words will again bring you closer together and allow you to figure out which questions to ask while letting them unravel how they are feeling. Children who cannot express their emotions, especially complicated negative ones, will instead suppress those emotions in an unhealthy way, which is not beneficial for their mental health.
Get Outside in the Fresh Air.
Encouraging your children to get outside every day will lift their mood and help them reset. Natural sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, deficiency in which can cause all sorts of health issues, including depression, so 20 minutes of exposure to sunshine a day will stop this. Even if there is no sun, dressing for the weather and getting out is a great mood lifter; after all, who doesn’t love putting on their rain boots and jumping in puddles?
In addition to playing out, make the most of being outside together by incorporating exercise into that time. Exercise has long been well known for being good for mental and physical health, and it can be enjoyable too. Go for a family bike ride together or kick a ball around at the play park, the main thing is to get moving in some form, and by doing it together, you’re strengthening those relationship bonds that are so important to a child’s well-being. That’s not to say you can’t take a teen to the gym or train for a running race together; if that is what they are interested in, the key is to find a level of activity that works for the age and ability of everyone involved.
Love and Security
Give your child unconditional love; this seems obvious, but let’s face it, even the most peaceful, well-behaved child can be challenging at times, and in those times, it’s easy to only talk in a negative tone to your child. By putting aside those negative feelings and reminding your child that you love them regardless, they will feel safe and secure in their relationship with you and develop the confidence to build good relationships elsewhere in their lives as well. Simple things like giving praise for the excellent stuff they achieve or giving them a hug or other comfort (and yes, a moody teen may profess to hate this, but quietly inside, they won’t) have as much impact as grand gestures.
Regardless of a child’s age, they want and need to feel loved and secure in their home environment and with the people there, and by providing them with this, you are helping build their confidence and resilience. Doing so will equip children with the ability to deal with (or ask for help with) the stresses of life that everybody, young and old, faces at some point or other in life.