Good mental health is an important part of any child’s development. In fact, good mental health allows kids to develop resilience, increases their ability to regulate emotions and focus their attention as well as helps to decrease stress and anxiety. However, with this NHS study finding that 1 in 6 children experience mental health issues in any given year, it’s never been so important for parents to promote good mental health at home. Here’s a few small everyday habits that you and your child can build upon that are sure to benefit their mental health now and start laying the foundations for the future.
Talk With Your Child Every Day
A positive relationship with you and your child has a huge effect on their mental health. That’s why one of the most important habits to adopt as a parent is to take time regularly to talk to them about their feelings, ask about their day and just listen to what they have to say. Talking it through can be a way for your child to cope with a problem they’ve been carrying around in their head, and just the act of having your full attention and being listened to can make them feel so much better. Talking about emotions specifically is key – we recommend encouraging your child to try to recognise and label their feelings, as this will help them communicate better.
Make Being Active A Daily Priority
Good physical health is often directly linked to mental health. That’s why a great habit to build and encourage with your child is taking part in some form of movement every day. Whether this is a walk outside, bouncing on a trampoline, playing football in the back garden, or attending different after school sports clubs- it all counts! Being active can help your child stay healthy, improve mood, release stress, have more energy, feel confident and sleep better. If you can get involved with them too, this way they have an accountability partner and you can build up the habit together!
Encourage Your Kids To Keep A Journal
Journaling or keeping a diary allows children to write down their thoughts, worries, emotions, ideas and memories. It’s an excellent way to help clear their head, feel less overwhelmed, process difficult feelings and just be able to write out anything that comes into their head without fear of judgement. Help your child build up this habit of keeping a diary by incorporating it into their daily routine – a great time for them to write is an hour or so before they go to bed. This way they can empty out all their worries and feelings onto the paper before they go to sleep, which will also help them feel much more relaxed.
Even though you might not realise it, sleep is one of the building blocks of mental health and wellbeing. That’s why making sleep a priority for your child is such an important habit to adopt. With children needing around 10 hours a night to enable proper growth and development, having enough sleep will also improve their ability to cope with stressful situations and be able to think clearly.
Practicing gratitude is a small but powerful habit for your child to try out. Simply noting down or even saying aloud 5 things they’re grateful for each day can help put things into perspective and remind them how lucky they are. It’s also a great idea for the whole family to get involved too – not only will it over time start to have a positive impact on everyday life, it’s a lovely thing to share together.
Turn Off Technology Often
One of the most beneficial habits to try with your child is taking time away from or turning off technology as often as possible. Whether this is once a week or an hour every day, simply shutting it down can have such a positive impact on mental health. Not only will it help your child learn to live in the moment and feel more relaxed, it can give their brain a break from worrying about what to post on Instagram, what to say when messaging their friend back or just comparing what they’re doing to what everyone else is doing. These small daily interruptions from technology can really take its toll on mental health if it’s not managed properly, so turning it off regularly is a crucial habit for the whole family to try.
If you’re concerned that your child is struggling with their mental health, it’s always best to contact your GP. For other resources for helping your child with their mental health, mind.org has some excellent tips.