In today’s fast-paced and increasingly complex world, nurturing the mental health of our children has become more crucial than ever. Just as we prioritize their physical health, it is essential to cultivate a strong foundation for their emotional well-being. As parents, caregivers, educators, and mentors, we have the incredible opportunity to shape their mental resilience and equip them with the tools to navigate life’s challenges. In this blog, we will explore eight effective ways to support and promote positive mental health in kids. These strategies will help lay the groundwork for their lifelong well-being. Together, let’s embark on this journey of empowering our children to thrive mentally, emotionally, and beyond.

Supporting Mental Health in Kids

#1 – Show them unconditional love.

One of the most effective ways parents can support their child’s emotional well-being is by showing them unconditional love. Frequently let them know how much you love them no matter what difficult situation they are going through. Kids will face challenges in their relationships, schooling, and activities. It’s important to show them that mistakes happen and that you will love them no matter what. Even if their mistake is something that frustrates you, remind them that it has no effect on how much you love them. 

#2 – Communicate effectively.

Talking regularly can make a big difference. By openly communicating with your children and checking in to ask about what’s going on, you’ll be able to see indicators when they’re struggling and be able to step in quickly. Communicating regularly will also help your child feel comfortable coming to you with their experiences, both good and bad. As long as they feel safe talking with you, you can expect them to communicate and explore their feelings openly with you.

#3 – Cultivate safety.

Speaking of feeling safe, this is a crucial component of a child’s emotional and mental well-being. Children need to feel safe in their environment and trust their guardians. If they do not, their mental state will not improve and they will not feel comfortable to experience their emotions freely. Children who feel safe also develop and learn properly. It provides them a space to be successful and honest about their experience. Parents can do this by making sure their children feel comfortable and trust in them. 

#4 – Promote family time.

It’s been proven that quality time with family can support mental health in kids. Quality family time promotes feelings of security, encourages self-expression, and boosted self-confidence. These factors all play a role in establishing mental resilience and regulation skills that will carry with them into adulthood. 

#5 – Positive encouragement.

Positive encouragement can go a long way, especially from a valued adult like a parent or guardian. If you notice your child is going through some emotional challenges, share how you feel about the wonderful things about them. Focus on characteristics of their personality versus physical features. This supports their self-confidence and self-esteem while encouraging positive behaviors you want to see repeated. Complimenting them on how kind they are or how great it is that they help others will make your children feel good and promote that behavior in the future. 

#6 – Guide self-care and quiet time.

Kids often need guidance when it comes to self-care. When they’re in a tough spot they may be so wound up in their emotional experience they don’t know what to do to make themselves feel better. Encouraging self-care and quiet time can help children learn to address their needs independently. Noticing that quiet activities or picking up a favorite hobby makes them feel good, they will likely repeat this process in the future, better gauging and addressing their emotional needs independently. Help them find what their quiet time and self-care activities are and encourage them when needed.

#7 – Stick to a routine.

In times of uncertainty and stress, children can find great comfort in a home routine. Bedtime routines help children wind down to ensure they get enough sleep. Morning routines can provide comfort and reliability putting them in a good mental space at the start of the day. Implement routines where it makes the most sense for your child and their needs. More information can be found on our blog Children and Routines: A Positive Relationship.

#8 – Encourage movement.

Like we mentioned how children may need encouragement when it comes to self-care,  getting children moving consistently can create healthy habits too. Being physically active is good for emotional and mental well-being as well as physical. In a world where a sedentary lifestyle is common, it’s important to encourage physical activity, especially at a young age. Try to encourage physical activity in times of stress. It may be a powerful tool that your child isn’t aware of yet. 

Nurturing emotional health in kids is essential to their development; promoting self-confidence, learning, and building emotional resilience. These areas help children grow in their independence. By implementing these tactics parents and caregivers can better equip children with the tools and a strong emotional foundation that will support them throughout their development. When we support mental health in kids, we set them on a path to long-term success and independence.

Sources: Nemours, Very Well Family, Discovery Mood & Anxiety Program