Parenting comes with many things to consider as our children grow up, from their diet, dental hygiene, education, and faith. We aim to ensure they have the best beginning in life to see them through to adulthood with the life skills needed to be happy and confident.
Protecting and nurturing our children’s mental well-being is as important as making sure they brush their teeth twice a day. We may think our children are too young to talk to them about mental health and positive mental well-being, or that they seem fine and there’s no need to bring it into conversations.
However, encouraging a positive approach to mental well-being is vital for young children and teenagers to understand that protecting our minds is a fundamental part of being human.
Be A Role Model
Our kids look to us as an example. It’s not always our words they listen to, but our actions which they see. Being a good role model can encourage positive mental well-being by actively looking after our bodies and minds. Our children will naturally gravitate towards caring for themselves as they recognise the importance we place on self-care. Also, when we react to certain stressful situations, our children may respond in the same way. We can guide them with helpful coping strategies, ensure they practise good self-care, and that they know they have someone to talk to.
Acknowledge Their Feelings
As parents, we naturally want to take away any hurt, pain, frustration or anger our children may feel. We cannot delete the problem or the feeling, but we can help our children understand their emotions, reactions and address the situation. By acknowledging their feelings, we recognise what they are going through with understanding which helps our children feel supported and validated.
Listen And Let Them Guide You
We cannot assume we know what the problem is. So it’s important we ask them questions even when it seems there is nothing untoward. Ask specific questions and ensure you listen intently. By listening to our children and encouraging them to talk and share with us, we can be guided by them in what support they need or uncover if they are struggling in any aspect of their life. They may simply need a listening ear or some helpful advice. If they don’t want to talk, simply being with them may help. Always let them know you are there for them.
Share Your Own Story
If you have experienced issues with your mental health, don’t be afraid to share your story with your teenager. By sharing our own experiences, we break the stigma and make mental well-being an understandable and essential aspect of our lives.