I’m so glad I’m raising my kids in a society where supporting mental health is a top priority. That wasn’t the case when we grew up! There are so many resources and conversations out there about self-care, positive mental health changes, and more for adults. I started wondering about kids’ mental health, too!
Our kids go through so many big emotions and changes during their childhood. Puberty, friendships, school, it can be a lot on them! I wanted to make sure that Bobby and I were doing what we could to create a positive, helpful environment for our kids and allow them the space and resources to put their mental well-being first. I did some research and found some amazing resources from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) on what we as parents can do to support our children’s mental health. Let me know what resonates with you and if there are any other tips that work for your family!
Establish a Sense of Belonging
We’ve sort of established ourselves as the spokespeople for embracing individuality over here. We’ve always been big advocates of welcoming others into our home and teaching our kids to do the same wherever they go — creating that feeling of being welcome and connected to others is key in creating a strong, positive sense of self.
Who remembers how fun middle school and high school were? That’s right, no one! We all remember the struggles we faced — how hard it was to balance school, friendships, raging hormones — the list goes on. But we all got through it, and that’s such an important lesson to teach our kids. Overcoming adversity is a cornerstone of life; it’s our friends, a good relationship with our parents, open communication, and self-confidence that get us through it.
I want my kids to feel confident no matter what they’re doing! We encouraged all of our kids to get involved in some kind of extracurricular — whether it’s dance, sports, science, or acting — so that they develop new skills and find their own sense of self in whatever they’re passionate about.
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Create a Positive and Safe Environment
Out of everything on this list, I find this to be the most essential. Our kids’ mental health starts at home. Feeling safe is something I didn’t always experience growing up; I never wanted the same for my kids. We’ve worked hard to create a safe environment at home and give them the tools like respect and kindness to ensure that that positive energy carries with them wherever they go.
Teach the Keys to Success
Child mental health is fostered through a few foundational skills. Social skills, problem-solving, conflict management — these are all the things we naturally develop but can advance even further with the help of parents. We try to give vocal positive feedback anytime our kids “succeed” at any of these things. That helps validate and reinforce this good behavior and encourages them to continue to do it more often.
Encourage Helping Others
I’ve always told my kids that a kinder world starts with them. I truly believe their generation has the power to change the world! I remind my kids that happens with even the smallest gestures. Not only is it kind to help others, but it helps them too by boosting their self-esteem and reinforcing positive behavior.
Incorporate Physical Health
While I believe weight and physical appearance have no bearing on a person’s value, I do believe physical wellness goes hand-in-hand with mental wellness. My kids get a lot of movement each day in dance and in sports, but I also make sure they’re getting enough sleep and meals to fuel all that they do!
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