As parents, we want to do everything in our power to ensure the well-being and happiness of our children. We make sure they eat healthy, get enough exercise, and have a good education. However, one aspect that often gets overlooked is their mental health.
According to the Children's Society, 1 in 6 children aged 5 - 16 are likely to have a mental health problem. With the increasing pressures and demands of society, it is more important than ever to safeguard the mental health of our children. In honour of World Mental Health Day, this blog post will discuss five ways you can help safeguard your child's mental well-being.
1. Educate Yourself
The first step in safeguarding your child's mental health is to educate yourself. Learn about the different mental health disorders that can affect children and their warning signs. For example:
Mood disorders such as bipolar
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Post Traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
This will help you recognize any potential issues early on and seek appropriate help.
It's not always easy to spot the difference between a child exhibiting normal developmental change and one struggling with their mental health, but some warning signs include:
Extended periods of sadness
Withdrawal from usual social events and activities
Extreme emotional outbursts
Drastic change in mood, behaviour and personality
Decline in academic performance.
2. Create a Safe and Supportive Environment
Children thrive in a safe and supportive environment. As parents, it is our responsibility to create a home where our children feel loved, accepted, and supported. This means listening to their feelings, providing a safe space for them to express themselves, and being understanding and patient.
3. Encourage Open Communication
Communication is key in any relationship, and this holds true for the parent-child relationship as well. Encourage your child to communicate openly with you about their thoughts and feelings. This will help them feel heard and understood, and it will also make it easier for you to identify any potential issues. Remember to validate their emotions, even if you don't agree.
4. Teach Coping Mechanisms
Life can be tough, and children will inevitably face challenges and setbacks. As parents, we can help our children by teaching them healthy coping mechanisms. This can include deep breathing exercises, journaling, or engaging in a hobby they enjoy. These tools will help them manage their emotions and deal with difficult situations in a healthy way.
5. Seek Professional Help
If you notice any concerning changes in your child's behavior or emotions, do not hesitate to seek professional help. Mental health professionals are trained to identify and treat mental health issues in children. Do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help if you feel your child needs it. You can start with your child's teacher or your family GP. Follow this link for a list of organisations that can help you.
Protecting the mental health of our children is a crucial aspect of parenting. By educating ourselves, creating a safe and supportive environment, encouraging open communication, teaching coping mechanisms, and seeking professional help when needed, we can help safeguard our child's mental well-being. Let's prioritize our children's mental health and give them the tools they need to thrive in today's world.