As a parent, you are often your child’s first and most important teacher. You have the unique opportunity to help them grow and learn by setting clear boundaries and expectations and helping them build self-confidence through positive reinforcement. You can also play an active role in helping them develop their emotional intelligence (EQ) which will give them the tools they need to handle life’s challenges once they leave your care.
Because of this, it’s important that you take care of your child’s mental health from the moment they’re born. If you notice any early signs of depression or anxiety in your child, it’s important to address it immediately with a professional. These 5 things you should consider when taking care of your child’s mental health are just as important as feeding them habits like playing with dolls or pretending with toy cars.
Be a role model.
Your child will learn many important lessons from watching you and your behavior is an especially important one. How you handle difficult situations, how you communicate with your partner and family, and how you respond to stress will teach your child what they need to know to successfully navigate similar situations. It’s especially important to model healthy coping skills like being flexible and being patient.
Don’t make assumptions.
When you assume your child is sad or angry, for example, you might unintentionally add fuel to the fire by accidentally adding the wrong words to their vocabulary. Even if you’re right, adding the wrong words to your child’s vocabulary can lead to poor communication in the future.
This is especially true if your child is younger than 3 years old because they have a very limited vocabulary. When it comes to mental health, don’t make assumptions about your child’s behavior or emotions. Ask for clarification if you don’t understand your child or if you notice any patterns in their behavior that seem unusual or unusual to you. You may be able to find out what’s bothering them or help them find a better way to express themselves.
Make time for play and exercise.
Time with your child should be a priority. Make sure you schedule in time to play with your child every single day and make sure you include plenty of physical activity in your schedule too. Play with dolls, use a variety of toys, read books together, and encourage your child to use imagination while they play.
Physical activity also has a number of mental health benefits including reducing stress and increasing feelings of well-being. It’s especially important to make time for play when your child is a teen because they’re at an age where they’re interested in more serious topics like relationships, sex, and drugs.
Eat the right foods.
Eating the right foods isn’t just essential for your physical health. Your mental health is also impacted by the foods that you eat. In fact, eating the right foods can reduce anxiety and improve your mood. Some of the best foods for mental health include apples, beans, oats, nuts, low-fat yogurt, salmon, and whole-grain breads.
Talk about your feelings.
If your child shares their feelings with you, they’ll have someone they can talk to besides themselves. Talk to your child about their feelings, even if they don’t want to talk about a specific topic. It doesn’t matter if it’s ten minutes out of an entire day.
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Talking about your feelings can help you identify them, process them, and learn from them. This can also help your child learn how to identify, process, and express their feelings too.
Take a class together.
Taking a class with your child can be a great way to connect and grow closer as a family. Find a class that interests your child and make it a priority to take it with them. You can also take a class together if your child is older or in high school.
Mental health is important for every single person in the world, but it’s especially important for young people. Sadly, one in five teenagers will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime and one in eight teens will develop an anxiety disorder. Being proactive when it comes to helping your child develop mental health habits early can help them avoid these serious issues later in life.
Mental health habits like eating the right foods, exercising, and talking about your feelings can help reduce stress and make you feel more confident. These are just a few of the things you can do to take care of your child’s mental health. Be proactive and make sure you help your child develop these healthy habits from the start.