A lot of parenting is teaching your child how to take care of themselves. You teach them how to brush their teeth, eat a balanced diet, and go to bed on time. These are all beneficial for their overall health, but what are you teaching them about mental health?
Mental health continues to be a growing concern for the youngest members of society as a child under 13 dies by suicide every five days on average. It’s important that we teach kids that taking care of their mental health is just as important as their physical health, and that if they are experiencing mental health issues, it’s okay to talk about them.
The good news is, teaching your child to take care of their mental health now can go a long way towards preventing greater mental health problems in the future.
Teach Them to Tune Into Their Bodies
The body and mind are inextricably connected. What does on in your mind affects your body, and vice versa. Our bodies will always tell us our underlying emotional state, even if we aren’t consciously aware. You may feel butterflies in your stomach when you’re nervous, or feel your face get hot when you’re mad, or feel tears well up in your eyes when you’re sad. Listening to your body is the best way to gauge how you feel, so when your child is feeling a strong emotion, ask them where they feel it in their body. This will help them be better in tune with their feelings.
Teach Them How to Talk About Their Feelings
From an early age, some emotional states are easy to identify, such as sad, mad, or happy. As they get older, your child will be exposed to so many different emotional situations. You can help them expand their emotional vocabulary by helping them label these new feelings, whether its anticipation, excitement, frustration, shame, nostalgia, disappointment, joy, or one of the many others.
Teach Them to Develop and Maintain Strong Relationships
You are the first relationship your child has, so keeping them safe and showing them unconditional, consistent love is important for them to learn to trust others. As they get older, their community and circle of friends expands, and as it does, it is important that your child understands how crucial these connections are and how to maintain them. The best way you can do this is by modeling that behavior for them. Show them how to maintain healthy relationships by having them yourself. Model setting boundaries, respectfully disagreeing, showing affection, and communication with others so your child is set up for success.
One way many individuals support their mental health is through therapy, including children. Oftentimes, kids are presented with life experiences beyond their comprehension, such as the loss of a beloved family member or the divorce of their parents. Regardless of the specifics, if you feel your child could benefit from therapy, we’re here to help. Contact New Transitions for child counseling in Palatine.