Each year, National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (May 7) seeks to raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health and show that positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development.
The importance of children’s mental health cannot be overstated. Good mental health is essential for children’s overall well-being, as it influences how they feel, think, and behave. When children are mentally healthy, they are better able to cope with life’s challenges, form positive relationships with others, and achieve their full potential. On the other hand, when children struggle with mental health problems, it can have a significant impact on their development, leading to difficulties in academic and social settings, and even affecting their physical health. Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize the mental health of children and provide them with the necessary support and resources to thrive.
Easier said than done, right?! There are many competing priorities when it comes to parenting and something that works for one family, may not for another. Many of our Give an Hour staffers are parents and grandparents. Here are some of our mental health tips that we have found helpful in our parenting journey. Take the ones that you like and leave the rest. Know that we are right there with you on this journey!
- Children are born with all the biological capacity they will ever have to physically experience fight or flight and very limited capacity to regulate the response. Their big reactions are an opportunity to learn to express and regulate those feelings.
- Early intervention is the highest indicator of lifelong success. Trust your instinct.
- If you are a parent who worries whether you are doing enough or doing it right, you are in fact doing it right and you are enough.
- Attachment is greater than academics, every time.
- It’s ok if they eat chicken nuggets two nights in a row. Everything in balance.
- Think outside the box to minimize stressful activators. Offer noise reduction earplugs to help children who are sensitivity to loud sounds, an Alexa in their room helps with white noise and meditation music. Chewable anxiety necklaces are available if you have a child that chews on their clothes, hair or fingers. consider seamless socks for those with sensory issues.
- Don’t underestimate the strength of a hug- lightly compressing hugs can really help regulate anxiety and anger.
- Never forget the power of the word “yet” (I can’t do it…yet. I can’t reach it…yet. I’m not good at….yet.)
- Remind them that they can’t control what others think, say, feel, or do. But they CAN control what they think, say, feel, and do in reaction to them.
- Remember their perspective is limited to their experiences, not ours. Meet them where they are. Make them feel validated/understood before engaging in natural instincts to protect and correct.
- Tell them you want to know when they’re in a ‘funk’ and need space! Doing this helps them realize that it’s okay to be in ‘funks’ and it’s okay to sit in the feels. It also helps parents know when they have the green light to step in.
- Practice self care together as a family.
- Be willing to “sit on the bench with them”….meaning if they are experiencing an icky feeling, don’t dismiss it or get them off that bench. Show them it’s possible to feel the icky feeling and not be alone.
Share with us your parenting tips in the comments!