We all want to raise resilient kids. Whether your child has exceptional needs, has multiple diagnoses, or minimal concerns, it is the job of parents to help them become confident and capable beings. Over the past couple of years, socio-emotional learning and health have become more important than ever. A child's mental health and well-being are based on certain intrinsic factors, as well as outside forces and events. Mental health is malleable, and good mental health is a practice, like anything else. We can instill good habits in our children from a young age. One bad experience does not result in an unhappy child who becomes a depressed adult. But children can be parented through difficult times and shown how to navigate tough experiences to become strong, confident, and capable. Good mental health begins at home. Here is how you can practice positive behaviors that shape whom your child becomes.
All They Need is Love
Maybe it sounds simplistic or naive, but love can be an incredible foundation. To be emotionally equipped to handle life’s ups and downs, a person must know that he or she is unconditionally accepted and safe. Tell them you love them, even when you are mad. Also, show them by hugging, snuggling, or just being present and engaged in *their* world. It matters to them so much.
Communication is Critical
It’s okay to be sad. And it’s even more important to be able to express when you are down. Teach your children that talking about their feelings is healthy, and a pretty reliable way to unburden oneself. Toddlers can talk about feeling frustrated, your preschooler can experience jealousy, and a school age child is equipped to discuss feeling bullied, or brave, or missing someone. The older your child gets, the more nuanced the discussion of emotions can become. If you feel you need extra support in this area, speech pathologists are trained to help children communicate their feelings and needs.
Make Mental Health a Family Practice
Do you ever take time to meditate or simply slow down and breathe deeply? Make these habits something your child sees and invite him or her to participate. Whether it’s going for a walk to calm the mind, seeing a therapist, or putting yourself in a “time-out” when you feel dangerously cross, you can model good behavior, and make gratitude & being gentle with yourself something that is common in your home. Children often imitate the actions and habits of adults in their life. There are many child driven apps with age-appropriate meditations to encourage children to help slow and calm their minds. If you feel you need extra support in this area, occupational therapists are also trained to help families learn self-regulation.
Teach Realistic Expectations
You don’t win all the time. Often things go wrong. Life rarely looks the way it does in our dreams and expectations, and you can teach children about handling crises. Include them in conversations about hard situations to let them hear you say that not everything will work out, and sometimes we end up feeling a situation is unjust, or that something isn’t fair. This prepares children much more thoroughly and appropriately for any disappointments they may encounter.
Problem Solving (and PLAY!)
Show them how to work through a problem, how to persevere, and accept failure along with successes. A great (and fun!) way to provide examples of problem solving is through play! Board games, building toys, outdoor pretend play, and any form of play provide endless opportunities for implementing problem solving skills. Life is a balancing act, and a strong, well-adjusted, playful person can adjust, pivot, accept, and move through all sorts of circumstances.
We Can Help!
About Kids Home Health provides services for all kinds of terrific kids. What do you need right now to help your child live life to the fullest?