5 Ways to Strengthen Your Child’s Mental Health

Stephanie GrandestaffMile Markers

Anyone is susceptible to mental illnesses including young children. In fact, Medicine Net notes that approximately one-fourth of children and teens have a mental disorder in any given year. Common among these mental health disorders are anxiety and depression, along with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (which affect 8–10% of school-aged children).

As such, recognizing the signs of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses are crucial, as they can affect all aspects of your child’s life — their friendships, the way they interact at home, and even their schooling. Indeed, studies carried out by Maryville University on the psychology of students note how there are strong connections between mental health and learning, which underscores the importance of valuing a child’s mindset. If your child is underperforming at school, their mental wellbeing could be a key reason why. Recognizing these signs is just the beginning, as you will also have to strengthen your child’s mental health so they are supported and can support themselves as they grow up. That being said, below are five ways to do just that:

1. Create a Positive Home Environment

Your child’s mental development depends largely on your home’s environment. Hence, it is imperative that you make your home a safe haven — one that is lively, loving, positive, and appreciative. Such an atmosphere will bring peace of mind to your child, as opposed to an atmosphere filled with distrust, negativity, and, worse, violence. So, in order to foster this positive home environment, you will have to cultivate a healthy relationship not only with your child, but also with every other member of the family.

2. Foster Trust

Central to strengthening your child’s mental health is earning their trust, but even then, building trust is a process that might take time. You can foster it by meeting the physical and emotional needs of your child especially when they’re feeling sad, scared, or frustrated. One thing to note is that it is important to not get frustrated yourself as this could make matters worse. This also means keeping your word, making time for your child, and being consistent in your care.

3. Develop Your Child’s Self-Esteem

Psychotherapist Amy Morin explains in ‘How to Improve Children’s Mental Health’ that self-esteem can boost mental health. The best way to develop your child’s self-confidence, according to Dr. Morin, is to boost their self-esteem by dispensing genuine and realistic praise. This means steering clear from hyperbole or exaggerated compliments (e.g., You’re the smartest kid in the world). Then, teach your child ways for them to develop their self-esteem by themselves, like giving them opportunities to do things on their own, encouraging healthy self-talk, and letting them develop new skills.

4. Let Them Play

Play is a vital way children have fun, and is also a means to improve their creativity, as we discussed in our ‘6 Ways to Foster a Sense of Creativity in Your Kids’ post. But aside from developing curiosity and imagination, play can also strengthen kids’ mental health. The Atlantic points to a 2018 report on the importance of play, and how it is vital to a child’s development. Particularly, it helps improve cognition, memory, social skills, and even mental health. Needless to say encourage your child to play often and make sure you play with them.

5. Introduce Your Child to Thinking Spiritually

Researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that kids with spiritual beliefs, are more likely to have better mental health into their adulthood. In particular, the study discovered that adults who, in their childhood, had some form of spiritual activity reported greater life satisfaction. Tellingly, adults who grew up in a spiritual household experienced fewer symptoms of depression. So, if you haven’t been doing so yet, consider introducing your child to religion— but remember to not force them into it, and let them join on their own terms. Once you find a sense of spirituality together, it could pay off in the long term.

It is a parent’s duty to help strengthen their child’s mental health. If your child struggles with any mental issues, we hope the above article has helped. Specially written for GoodDads.comBy: Raena Jaelyn