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How To Teach Your Kids About Mental Health?

All parents unanimously want their children to be healthy and happy. There’s absolutely nothing more important to them in this whole wide world than their offspring’s wellbeing. Why else do they nag kids to brush their teeth, take baths, and are always ready with band-aids and antiseptics when their kids step out to play?

Parents often give ample importance to physical fitness, but sadly, mental health is somehow skimmed over, if not altogether forgotten. But it’s not something to be ignored or taken lightly. Be it an adult or a kid, keeping track of and looking after one’s mental health is an essential skill that everyone needs. If children had a toolkit of tips and techniques to help them cope when things get tough, it would set them up for life!

Of course, it’s not always an easy conversation to have, especially since we probably didn’t get one when we were all kids. It’s time to right the wrong and equip the coming generations with all they need to face this scary, nerve-wracking place called the world. And to make it a little simpler for you, we have compiled a few tips to help you teach your kids how to look after their mental and emotional well-being. Before we jump into that,

Get Your Fundamentals Right

Before you go teaching your kids, you must make sure to have understood your fundamentals properly and thoroughly. We deal with a wide range of emotions on a daily basis, and that’s completely natural. It is a cause for concern only when the negative feelings linger for longer than normal. That could be a sign of more serious mental health problems like anxiety or depression. What is mental health? In many ways, mental health is just the same as physical health. However, instead of looking after our muscles and joints, we’re caring for our minds, our emotions and our thoughts.

So is someone with good mental health always happy? Not necessarily. Mental health is a spectrum and so someone with good mental needn’t always necessarily be cloud nine. They are just slightly better at managing the ups and downs, and instead of being overwhelmed, they recognise and work through the negative emotions and thoughts.

Now that we have a better understanding of what mental health is, here are a few practical tips to help you teach your children how to look after their mental health.

  1. Model Good Habits Kids imitate what they see around them, especially their parents. But just as they easily get amused with and pick up bad words, they pick up good habits too. As a powerful role model for your child, you can use this to your advantage! If you express your feelings and emotions calmly and confidently, in a relaxed way, chances are they pick up this behaviour as well. Remember, your behaviour and patterns can be passed down through generations without your noticing. So take a step back and check on your mental well-being, if there is anything you haven’t worked through, make sure to get help, take therapy, and stop the abusive pattern with you. This way, you not only give your whole family a gift of positive being but also lead your kids by example!

  2. Sleep Schedule A good night’s sleep can work wonders on mental well-being. That’s especially true when it comes to kids. Little ones get irritable and cranky when they miss their nap time. Do not disturb their biological clock for any reason. Make sure your kids follow a strict sleep schedule - encourage them to go to bed at the same time every night, with no exceptions even on weekends and holidays, and map their nap times every day as well.

  3. Emotional Education Our tiny humans, just like us adults, have complex emotions to process, and complicated feelings to deal with. Let’s not forget that. They may be feeling angry, sad, frustrated, or joyful, but might not have the vocabulary or means to express it. This often results in uncontrollable tantrums. Instead of punishing this problematic behaviour, calmly explain the feeling they might be feeling and the behaviour associated with it - crying when they have to say goodbye to a dear friend is an act of sadness, shouting when a toy is taken away from them is them showing anger. By helping them identify and name their emotions it’ll help your kids make sense of their feelings and express themselves better. Better yet, it’ll help you recognise the difference between rational emotions and more serious underlying mental health conditions.

  4. Coping Mechanisms There are plenty of coping skills you can teach your kids to help manage their emotions. There are breathing exercises, soothing music they could listen to, calming short stories you could read to them, or just holding hands and taking some deep breaths works wonders too. This would provide a safe environment where they can sift through their emotions and make sense of how they’re feeling, and help promote a sense of peace.

  5. Have Regular Conversation Sometimes all your kids need is a shoulder to cry on or a pair of listening ears. But sometimes, amid the hectic buzz of day-to-day life, it can be easy to forget to check in with your kids emotionally. But make it a point to check in with them, and have healthy conversations about mental health in general regularly. If you’re feeling uncomfortable about starting the conversation, that’s okay. You can try doing activities side-by-side and make it a casual conversation. Even if they’re alright, creating a space where they feel safe to talk about their mental health lays the groundwork should any issues arise in the future.

Most importantly, let them know that struggling sometimes is normal and nothing to be ashamed of. Even if they’re in a positive headspace, informing them of other people’s struggles will nurture empathy and remove the stigma surrounding mental health problems.


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