Ireland has scary statistics when it comes to mental health, with as many as 1 in 4 people experiencing mental health problems during their lifetime. That's why it is so important to promote positive mental health from a young age.
Normalising issues around mental health with children can help to reduce the stigma and feelings of judgement as they get older while also increasing the chance of them seeking help with their mental health if they ever need it.
As parents, it is essential we talk openly and honestly with our children about mental health, by helping them to understand their emotions and to teach them the importance of looking after themselves both mentally and physically.
If you're wondering how you can nurture your child's mental health, we've done all the hard work for you. Here are some ways you can nurture your child's wellbeing all while building self-esteem and strong resilient kids:
How to nurture a child's mental health.
Build strong, caring relationships.
Building a strong, loving and supportive relationship is the key to your child's mental health and will help your child develop socially, emotionally, mentally and physically. Tell your child you love them no matter what, make time to talk, listen to them and most importantly enjoy time with your child. Read with them, play with them and do things your child likes to do.
Help develop self-esteem.
Children with good self-esteem feel accepted, confident, believe in themselves and feel proud of what they can achieve. To help your child develop good self-esteem, be a good role model by putting effort into everyday tasks and modelling the right attitude in the hope your child does the same. Slow down, praise them for little wins and focus on their strengths.
Respect their feelings.
No matter how intense or difficult it may be, validation of a child's feelings is an essential component of positive mental health. If your child is experiencing sadness or feeling overwhelmed, show empathy, acknowledge their emotions with words of encouragement and give them time to reflect.
Create a safe space.
Being able to share and open up is a skill that needs time to develop which you can do by creating a safe environment in the hope your child will willingly come to you to talk about things. Ask questions before giving advice, don't overreact or judge them and use empathy as they share and process their feelings.
Promote possible solutions for difficult situations.
Age depending, you could create a worry box, a therapeutic approach in addressing excessive worry and anxiety in young children. If they are older, introduce the idea of journaling and get them writing about their daily thoughts.
Encourage your child to learn about mindfulness and to practice deep breathing exercises. Promote the idea of getting social by joining a local sports team or drama classes and get outdoors as much as possible. You may be surprised by the positive effects a simple walk in the woods or a stroll by the sea can do.