Quick Tips to Supporting Children's Mental Health
Every parent wants what’s best for their child, and as a parent, you aim to ensure that your child feels supported through each stage of development. While professional intervention can be necessary for situations where a child is having a hard time coping with life or life changes, there are many ways parents can support a child’s mental health. While not exhaustive, we will share 6 quick tips to help promote resilience in overcoming life challenges and changes.
1. Model healthy coping skills. Imitation is the best teacher, and at home, your children learn by watching you. You can help your children learn how to deal with their emotions healthily by modeling coping skills at home. You can engage in these skills with your child or talk them through doing them on their own. Activities such as deep breathing, making art (painting, coloring, doodling), or going for walks can be great strategies for coping with feelings.
2. Teach and reinforce positive behaviors and decision-making. Provide consistent expectations and support. Teaching children social skills, problem-solving, and conflict resolution supports good mental health. "Catch" them being successful. Positive feedback validates and reinforces behaviors or accomplishments that are valued by others.
3. Create a sense of belonging. Feeling connected and welcomed is essential to children's positive adjustment, self-identification, and sense of trust in others and themselves. Keep communication open and honest. Create an environment and let them know they are loved and supported, no matter what they do. Building strong, positive relationships is important to promoting mental wellness.
4. Promote resilience. As parents, we aim to shield children from pain, change, and challenges. However, adversity is a natural part of life, and being resilient is important to overcoming challenges and having good mental health. Connectedness, competency, helping others, and successfully facing difficult situations can foster resilience.
5. Watch for behavior changes. It is very normal for kids to go through changes in behavior while progressing through different developmental stages. However, if you notice that your child has become more withdrawn or isolated from their friends, family, or routine, it may be a sign that they’re experiencing a situation or feeling that they don’t know how to process on their own. Check-in with your child and let them know you’re there and ready to support them however they need.
6. Get professional help if needed. Seeking professional help does not mean you have failed as a parent. On the contrary, recognizing when your child needs help is a crucial skill to have as a parent. There may be times when it can be overwhelming or frustrating to try to handle your child’s behaviors or respond appropriately to their emotions. Don’t be afraid to find and ask for help—it can be a great benefit to both you and your child.
At RAI Counseling, our multilingual team of counselors offers individual therapy, family therapy, group counseling sessions and parent support, consultation, and training. We help parents and caregivers learn ways to respond more effectively to their child's behaviors. Parents increase their understanding of their child's triggers, warning signs, mental health symptoms, and ways of coping. Parents also learn about their triggers, perceptions, and strategies for self-regulation.