We think of children as happy-go-lucky juveniles with seemingly endless energy and an ever-curious mind, always thirsting for new places to explore and thrills to experience. If that could always be the case, the world would be better off for it, but reality can be a real downer sometimes, and children are no exception.
Children are no more free from the turmoil that unmanaged mental health issues bring about in their lives than adults. They experience a wide array of complicated emotions that reflect their individuality just like any other person, and they also deserve to obtain help when the situation calls for it.
Continue reading to learn more about:
- The impacts that you as a parent can have on your children
- Steps you can take to enrich your child’s life and improve their mental health
- Resources available to help children and families navigate these difficulties
Foster a Healthy Environment
As a parent, you want nothing more than for your child to have the best life possible. In an ideal world, you wouldn’t have to worry about your child running into problems in settings outside of your control, but reality demonstrates that to be an unattainable fantasy.
Your child will encounter stress while living out their daily life, and there isn’t much you can do to ensure they avoid undesirable situations; however, what you do have power over is the kind of home environment they will inhabit and the skills you give them for dealing with life outside the household.
Parental Influence on Mental Health
Children look to their parents for guidance and support in a world they are unfamiliar with. If you are someone who has children, you know how much work goes into their upbringing and the tool this work can take on your own mental health. What you might overlook is the direct correlation your state of mind has on the quality of your child’s mental health.
Stress often breeds more stress, and when left unchecked that stress can manifest other mental health problems. Parents who neglect their own mental health needs will often develop unhealthy coping mechanisms, which can negatively affect their children. The household may become unstable with consistent arguments, lack of engagement, and disciplinary issues, all of which will push stress onto your child.
It is in both yours and your child’s best interest to make a priority of taking care of yourself. Children learn by watching the actions of their parents, and poor mental health is not exempt from this. If you or your spouse suffer from mental health problems, seek appropriate treatment and learn how to manage your emotions in a healthy manner.
Putting in the time to work on your mental health is one of the greatest favors you can do for your child. Do your best to not become overcome with stress and negative emotions to create a healthy environment that your child will be comfortable residing in.
Consistency is Key
Children depend on their parents to provide structure in their lives. Stability is a huge factor in a child’s mental health, and one of the best things you can do as a parent is develop a regular routine that both you and your child follow.
Change can be immensely difficult for children, and though it is unavoidable at times, it is your responsibility as a parent to ease the stress brought about through new transitions. Seek out support systems to help your child adjust to new experiences, such as moving and attending a new school. Teach your child how to cope with change by reinforcing positive behaviors and good decision making skills so that they may overcome stressful circumstances.
Stress is a normal part of life, and though it may seem scary for those who cannot appropriately manage it, stress can be dealt with in healthy ways. The emotions of children are as vast and tempestuous as the sea, which is why they require guidance from their parents and other support figures in their lives.
Teach your child how to handle intense emotions and to apply healthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress. Confide in them by letting them know that you also experience similar difficulties, but have learned how to manage yourself so that you are not overcome by unwanted thoughts.
Resources for Children and Families
The importance of support systems cannot be stressed enough when it comes to confronting the challenges that mental illness presents in the lives of children and parents alike. Though you might feel isolated and overwhelmed by the difficulties that come alongside parenthood, rest assured that there are so many others out there who want to help.
Discover what resources are available to you and what actions can be done to ensure both you and your child live happy, fulfilling lives.
National Organizations Providing Mental Health Information and Services
- Offers assistance to abused and traumatized children through direct service and educational resources.
- Provides information, training, and additional resources to professionals working in adolescent health, with an emphasis on teen pregnancy and parenting.
- The largest professional organization of psychology in the United States focused on the practical application of the field in order to benefit and improve people’s lives. Provides treatment and resources concerning youth violence and trauma in children.
Emotional and Behavioral Resources
- The Center for Parenting Education: Understanding Temperament
- Scholastic: Anger Management Tips for Children
- Parents Magazine: Improving Kids’ Social Skills
- More Self Esteem: Boosting Your Child’s Self Esteem
- Healthy Place: Parenting Resources & Information
Mental health is as important as physical wellness and should always be taken seriously by the parents and supportive figures present in the lives of children. If any parents are struggling with the welfare of their children, remember that there are so many other people out there who want to give their support. You do not have to do this alone.