Raising children isn’t a walk in the park, but it is one of the most fulfilling things a person can do in their lifetime. Thankfully, no one has to take on this task alone; this is the beauty of being part of a community. The truth is it takes a village to raise a child.
Children go through numerous developmental stages, from infancy into toddlerhood and teenagehood into adulthood. Therefore, their caregivers must monitor the child’s progress from one phase to another to ensure that the child remains healthy.
Parents should understand that mental health is just as important as physical health. Research shows that 1 in 6 children in the United States suffers from mental, behavioral, and developmental disorders.
But how can one support and nurture their growing children’s mental health needs? Read on to discover seven things you should know about this topic.
Although it is normal for any child to experience difficulty dealing with emotions of anger, sadness, anxiety, or fear, sometimes this struggle may be caused by an underlying condition.
Examples of common mental disorders include autism, depression, ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), anxiety, and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
As children develop, they must learn how to express themselves effectively. One of the best ways to enhance proper communication is by ensuring that your child feels seen, heard, and understood.
Consequently, they become more confident and vocal, boosting their self-esteem and overall mental wellness. On the contrary, if a child feels threatened by their environment, they may close up and struggle with effective communication and social interactions.
Praising your child for a job well done will boost their self-confidence. The act of praising them influences them to practice positive self-talk. Additionally, showing them recognition in the presence of other people makes them feel validated, which in turn promotes healthy growth. However, if your child seems to be struggling with self-confidence, encouraging them before they perform a task will provide the confidence boost they may be missing.
Many times as adults, we tend to despise the folly of children. It is important to remember that life is a learning curve; therefore, children need time to develop and mature.
Therefore, although you may not agree with your child’s thoughts and perspectives on a subject, it is critical to disagree in a respectful and validating manner. For example, use phrases such as “I hear you, but also consider this other point of view.”
The quote, “A problem shared is a problem halved’” by Katie M. John, rings true. Your support and guidance during a challenging time in your child’s life will strengthen them emotionally. Additionally, you can teach them how to ease anxiety or worry by practically taking deep breaths, clearing their minds, or breaking down a problem into bite-size pieces to find a solution.
If you notice that your child’s mental health may be suffering, seek help from a healthcare practitioner, such as a pediatrician or counselor that can talk to your child. In doing so, you may be able to treat a disorder before it advances and grows into a larger problem. However, if the illness progresses, ensure that you incorporate regular therapy sessions into your child’s routine.
Every child is different in terms of personality, preferences, and temperaments. However, if you notice adverse behavioral, emotional, or social changes in your child, pay keen attention. These changes may be signs of the onset of mental illness. Examples include excessive sleeping or eating, sudden emotional outbursts, seeming more withdrawn than usual, or speaking negatively about themselves.
As parents, we all want what’s best for our children. Providing the necessary support to enhance their healthy growth and development is vital in preparing your child for success. Since this is such a pervasive problem, being tuned in to your child’s emotions and development will help in early recognition of problems. If you suspect a problem with your child’s mental health outside of normal emotional changes, the board-certified pediatricians at Children’s Medical Group can help you navigate the next steps. Regular wellness exams can also be a great time to talk to your child’s pediatrician about normal growth and development and to address any concerns you may have.