As parents, our priority will always be the wellbeing of our children.
As a parent, our priority will always be the wellbeing of our children.
Their physical health takes up a huge portion of this because it is something we so naturally look out for.
If our child has a temperature we treat it and keep a close eye on any other symptoms
that may arise. If a tummy bug
strikes we keep them off school and make sure they get plenty of fluids and rest to fight it off.
Our children’s physical health is usually at the forefront of our minds every single day. However, how much of our attention is being directed at their mental health? These days mental health issues and disorders are believed to affect almost one in four people.
For this reason, our children’s mental health should be given the same level of care as their physical health.
The problem with mental health issues is that they can often be completely invisible. They require great observation and a whole lot of listening. In many ways, it is safer to assume that our children could develop such an issue as it might just make it easier to respond sensitively to their concerns and needs when they seem out of the ordinary or unreasonable.
Promoting positive mental health for our children is extremely important. As adults, we tell our friends and family members that it is “OK to not be OK” and that it is so important to talk about and address mental health issues so that a person can begin to feel better. The very same should be extended to our children but in an age-appropriate way.
Here are our top tips for promoting positive mental health for your children:
1. Encourage your children to talk about their feelings. Rather than talking them out of a bad mood or feeling of sadness encourage them to talk about the reason behind it. Feeling validated is really important.
2. Try to insist on as much outdoor time as possible. So many anxiety disorders are connected to social media and technology. Helping your children to fall in love with the great outdoors and all of the positives it can offer will help this become a natural choice for them as they get older.
3. A healthy balanced diet with five portions of fruit and vegetables a day has been proven to affect a person’s mood. It’s not always easy but encouraging a healthy diet as much as possible will really positively impact a young person’s mental health.
4. Have an open door policy whereby you constantly reiterate that your children can tell you ANYTHING. Children often need a reminder of this and talking is extremely therapeutic.
5. Pay attention to who your children spend their time with. Do their friends positively or negatively impact their mood, attitude or emotions? More or less time with certain friends may be needed.
6. Sleep is so important when it comes to having positive mental health. A good bedtime routine and good quality sleep should always be a priority.
7. Children thrive on routine. It helps them to feel secure. Where possible try to keep things in a routine so that your child has comforting check-points throughout the day.
8. Ensuring that your child drinks enough fluid throughout the day will give them more energy and better overall wellbeing. This can have a huge effect on their mental health as it affects how they deal with day to day tasks such as sports and homework.
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.