It is a misconception that children don’t have stress or mental health struggles. While what they go through is different to adults, it is important to them. Part of the job as a parent, no matter what age your children are, is to help them with their mental health.
Being one of the most influential people in their lives is a big responsibility, but it also means that come rain or shine, they have a support network that they can lean on when they need it.
So how can you help your child through stressful times in a most healthy way?
If your child never hears you talking about feelings, how do they know for sure that they can or should? You need to lead by example here – even if it is uncomfortable for you.
Maintaining open lines of communication is one of the most critical mental health recommendations for children. Always reassure children that no matter what is going on, they can come to you with their feelings.
Ensure they know you’re listening if they have any concerns or queries. Recognize the value of their sentiments, and they’ll be more likely to come to you throughout their lives to talk about how they’re feeling.
During the teenage years, often, children pull away slightly but keep reminding them that if you are needed, you are always there.
This works for children of all ages and almost all circumstances too. If there is a lot of stress going on, one of the things that you will want to avoid is making things too complicated.
Making space for some simplicity in their lives might be precisely what they need. If they are going through trauma, are in need of outside support like https://www.sunshinebehavioralhealth.com/california/huntington-beach/, or need some time alone – provide the safe haven that they need.
You can even keep conversations simple unless they want to open up to you.
If your child never knows what to expect, they might find it difficult to relax. A constant state of ‘what if’ or ‘what now’ is unhealthy for your child and can be very upsetting.
Older children, if they have returned to your home or need support in their own home, can also benefit from the steady expected moments that a routine can bring.
Children thrive when they have a set schedule. Things that disrupt their daily routines can add to the stress and anxiety they’re currently experiencing. That’s why having your child maintain a daily schedule is one of our top mental health advice for kids. Then they must set aside time for learning, playing, snacking, and eating. Last but not least, keep to your sleep routine.
Even the wildest of spirited children will benefit from knowing when certain things are supposed to happen.
While it is important that children have some understanding of the world outside their front door, you can decide how much exposure they get. The world can be a scary place when broken down into short news segments.
We know that the news delivers the biggest stories, and usually, those stories are global disasters and other stuff that can be upsetting for small children.
Younger children can often process information in a different way to adults, and while you might know that the item in the news will pass quickly or isn’t serious – children don’t.
Do you remember what it was like to play for hours and how freeing it felt? If you have younger children, giving them the ability just to play is a big deal.
We often rush children to grow up, asking them to take on responsibilities, literally saying ‘grow up’ or ‘stop being silly,’ which can be more damaging than you might think.
Playing is one of the best ways for your children to express their creativity and burn off excess energy.
We all need some free time and some downtime; make sure your children are getting theirs.
After the playtime and the regular activities, there should be some downtime in the day. Or at least once a week. The technology goes off, peaceful music goes on, and everyone takes a moment to decompress.
The conversation is great during this time, or perhaps you don’t want your downtime to focus on talking but rather just being.
There are many ways to help your child work through stressful moments, some of them will require you to set boundaries, and other times it will require you to let them burn energy off for a while.
It’s not just mental health and stress where you can lead by example, Teaching Kids By Example: Taking Care of Your Things.