Our health is so much more than what we feel in our bodies; it also extends to our emotional and mental well-being at all ages and stages of life.
Something that might sound like a concern that only an adult would face can affect kids, too, and at all ages – even preschoolers. Pressure, worries, and anxiety are also things young people struggle with as they grow up.
As adults, our first thoughts might be to ask, “What do kids have to stress about?” Work, bills, and other responsibilities might top adults’ lists of stressors, but young people have a lot to cope with, too.
Being over-scheduled, feeling pressured to compete or perform in extra-curricular activities, and school can all impact a young person’s emotional health.
But there are ways parents can promote well-being at home, for all ages. Here are some tips to help get you started:
1. Be mindful that growing up isn’t easy. Childhood can be happy and carefree – as life can be at any age – but it can also be full of change, insecurity, and uncertainty as young people face challenges and learning opportunities for the first time and develop their identities along the way.
2. Model acceptance. Show that you accept others as they are – including your child – and help them do the same. There are many ways to “be” in the world, and it’s important that each of us is able to be comfortable in our skin and feel supported by those around us as we develop and grow.
3. Find everyday examples to start discussions. Song lyrics, movies, and news stories can all provide opportunities to build a dialogue with your child. These conversations can happen in the car, while making dinner, or as you’re out running an errand. Keep them casual: “What do you this song means?” Or, “have you been talking about this event in school at all?”
4. Learn together. Find ways for you and your child to improve your mental health literacy. If there is a story about mental health in the news, for example, why not do some research online together about it? Visiting trusted, credible sources can help your family stay informed, and doing this together can help encourage your child to talk to you about how they’re feeling.
5. If your child is experiencing mental health struggles that might impact their daily routines, ask them how – or if – they want to communicate this information to other friends or family. There is no shame in having a mental health struggle. Avoid saying things like, “Grandma won’t believe that you are going through this,” or, “I just don’t know how we’ll explain this to your coach.”
And while it is important for parents to find support through friends, colleagues, or professionals, it is also important to respect that your child might not want their struggles widely shared. Posting personal information about your child or teen on social media is another thing to be mindful of – it can stay online for a long time and might not be the kind of information your child wants online as they get older.
Be respectful of both their needs and your own, and work together on finding ways to move forward. Finding solutions as a team will help build trust and communication between you and your child.
6. Be mindful of what you talk about around your child. While it’s important to communicate openly with kids, it’s also important not to create unnecessary stress for them. Be mindful of how you talk about your own problems, like a disagreement with a friend or a bad day at work.
7. Create a set of codes or signals that you and your child can use if you need to talk about a sensitive subject. It might be something they can send in a text, or a hand signal they can give to you at the breakfast table. This can let you know to find some quiet, private time to talk together, and it shows your child that they can count on you to always be there.
More support can be found at KidsHelpPhone.ca.
Great tips! I always am mindful of the fact that everything I say, do and model is being learned, judged and repeated by the kiddos. Keeps me honest.
Great job! Thank you for sharing 🙂
Some very good tips! Children are always listening, watching.. even when it appears their doing something else or their minds are elsewhere.
It is very true that even when they aren’t actively listening, they are still hearing and absorbing what is going on around them.
These are really helpful tips. I have to remember that everything that I do is watched, absorbed and processed by my kids and that every moment is a teachable one.
It is so true that children are watching and listening to our every move and word!
#6….I was just having a discussion with hubby about that one. Not burdening a child with certain things….sometimes people need reminders.
Especially as children get older, they ALWAYS have their listening ears on, even when you don’t think they are paying attention.
these are helpful tips I make a conscious effort to do this, as a preteen I was well on my way to getting an ulcer I had the weight of the world on my shoulders, worrying about my parents money problems and other things. I think sometimes adults don’t realize how kids can pick up on these things and how seriously it can affect them
Oh dear, you poor thing, Jamie. That is terrible to hear. Did you ever end up sharing this with your parents? Thank you for sharing here – this will help parents understand just how much their actions and words affect their children/teens.
no I never shared with them, to be honest I’m not sure they are in a place even now, that they would understand as they have plenty of things going on. However I just try to use these experiences as a life lesson and do better for my daughter. Its very important to me to not repeat the cycle that my siblings and I experienced. I try not to dwell on the past but take lessons from it and learn. Hopefully that doesn’t sound too airy fairy lol:)
Yes, it’s so important to not show all the stresses you’re going through to your children, and to keep things on a positive note. Thank you for the reminder.
Some very good pointers here. In today’s world it is very easy for children to be stressed too. It’s not all a walk in the park for them either. I often think that these days children don’t have time to play like we used to, they are dashing off to some group or other whereas we just went out and played with friends, mostly just on the street outside our house.
those are some excellent tips
I agree with you that our children are being stressed out even from the crib-being taken to daycare can promote anxiety that should not be part of their young lives. Expectations from well-meaning parents to be in music, gym, hockey could dim the happiness of many. I think that many in our society have become so materialistic that they have forgotten the prime importance of family and all it entails.
It’s so true that little children can stress out about things too and sometimes we forget that because they are the most cheerful people in the world to be around.These are some very good tips to remember.As parents and grandparents we have to be aware of everything we say and that may reflect on how it might affect them.
Some very helpful points. I struggled with depression starting early on but it was only in my thirties when my mother herself started treatment for depression that my parents were willing to acknowledge that I had had the same issue for most of my life. It would have been such a blessing if there was an acceptance much earlier on. So, I do watch my own kids closely as I know that they are definitely at risk and I would want them to be helped sooner rather than later.
I’m so sorry that you have struggled with depression – that is challenging. Do you have any advice for others?
This is so important. Thank you for these tips and strategies. Mental health and wellness is often overlooked.
It sure is! Thanks for visiting.
Thank you for the excellent tips !