5 Tips on Raising Mentally Healthy Children
Every parent intrinsically wants to provide their children with what they feel is the best for them. Good parenting is such a vast topic to tackle, and there are many different styles of parenting that suit different personalities. After all, we’re all unique and possess different strengths and weaknesses! Despite this, the fundamental foundation for nurturing healthy children rings true for most people. A foundation of support and love is undoubtedly the most crucial building block of good mental health, but what does that entail? Is there such a thing as too much support?
The suggestions below propose a healthy balance between encouragement and discipline.
1. Allow children to feel disappointment
This goes against every instinct to keep your children happy at all times. However, think of the long-term effects of allowing your child to believe that life will always find a way to make them happy. It’s just not realistic. Little doses of disappointment can create great teaching moments in which parents can demonstrate and nurture coping skills, which will be invaluable as they get older. Parents can teach children how to recognize their feelings and deal with them in a healthy manner in a safe and empathetic environment.
2. Be in the moment with them
Being a parent in the age of technology can be challenging. Increasingly, kids are using technology at younger and younger ages. Parents not only have to create boundaries around the use of technology – which is a whole confusing situation of its own – they are also challenged to create a desire within their children to participate in real-life interactions. Let’s be honest: how many of us as adults grab our phones to capture every beautiful sunset? It’s important for children, and adults, to learn how to experience a moment through their senses and without the interference of a lens. Isn’t that a special part of the human experience? We need to lead by example and be present in the moment with our children.
Little doses of disappointment can create great teaching moments in which parents can demonstrate and nurture coping skills, which will be invaluable as they get older.
3. Don’t just tell them, show them
Leading by example isn’t a new concept. We all understand that our children replicate our actions – for better or for worse. As if raising a child wasn’t enough pressure on parents, they now have to become increasingly self-aware of their habits and behaviours. To make this task less daunting, starting with awareness of your day-to-day language usage and behaviours is a great way to take small steps towards a major goal. The added benefit for parents is that they are working on their personal-development along the parenting journey.
4. Reason with children
Parents are all too familiar with the phrase “because I said so” as it is commonly used to drive a message home. Understandably, who has the energy or time to explain the hundred directives dispensed in a day, right? By no means are we suggesting that parents get rid of this all-encompassing phrase, after all, kids can be stubborn. Still, taking the time to explain the logic behind a decision can help children understand the consequences of their actions in any given situation. The message may have to be explained repeatedly, but the outcome of this tactic is to ensure that children develop an internal compass which guides them even when their parent isn’t present. Short-term pain can result in long-term gain!
Encouraging children to verbalize their thoughts and feelings is extremely important in developing their individuality and preparing them for socially meaningful interactions.
5. Help children develop their own voice
Parents learn to interpret every facial expression and sound that their child makes, as this is how they meet the needs of their infants when they cannot verbally communicate. It’s all too easy to continue this intuitive way of communicating with children. Where does this leave children when trying to communicate with non-family members? Encouraging children to verbalize their thoughts and feelings is extremely important in developing their individuality and preparing them for socially meaningful interactions.