The Importance of Caring for Your Child’s Mental Health
We spend a lot of time worrying about our children’s physical health. Are they eating enough healthy food? Are they getting enough exercise? Are they staying safe while playing? But how often do we take that same proactive approach to their mental health?
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and with one in six U.S. children aged 6-17 experiencing a mental health disorder, we wanted to share some helpful tips for supporting your child’s mental health.* Before diving into specific strategies, let’s review why children’s mental health is so important.
The importance of children’s mental health
Your child’s emotional well-being is just as important as their physical health. Mental health affects how children think, feel, act, and learn. It also impacts how children handle stress, how they relate to others, and the choices they make.
Having good mental health allows children to develop the resilience to cope with life’s ups and downs and bloom into balanced, productive adults. Mentally healthy children feel good about themselves and their lives and can function well at home, in school, with friends, and in their communities.
Poor mental health, on the other hand, can lead to serious mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and OCD. These disorders come with symptoms such as feelings of hopelessness, low energy, loss of interest in daily activities, social isolation, sleeping more than usual, and excessive worry. Needless to say, these issues can seriously affect a child’s life and well-being.
How you can support your child’s mental health
When it comes to children and mental health, parental support is crucial. The following tips may seem simple, but they will go a long way in helping your child develop a strong foundation of mental well-being.
- Share your feelings and validate theirs
Research shows that children learn how to manage their emotions by mimicking their parent’s emotional regulation techniques.* Be a role model by talking about your emotions with your children in simple terms, taking ownership of them, and coping with them in healthy ways.
Being open about your emotions will make your child feel comfortable and safe to do the same. When they share their emotions with you, validate their feelings by listening without judging, asking questions, and comforting them when appropriate. This helps them feel supported and understood and conveys that you love and accept them regardless of their feelings or thoughts.
- Hug them
For such a simple act, hugs sure carry a lot of benefits. Studies suggest that a hug can reduce stress, make you happier, reduce fear, and increase relaxation.[*] These positive effects ultimately create a ripple effect that can improve a child’s mental well-being. So, give your child hugs—lots of them! By doing so, you’ll receive these incredible benefits, too!
- Be present and attuned
It can be challenging to remain present with your child when you feel like you have a million things to do, but doing so is incredibly important. Being present with your child helps them feel valued and supported, creating a secure foundation from which their mental health can flourish. The simple act of putting away your smartphone will likely open up a ton of mental space that can be redirected to your family.
- Practice patience
Although losing your cool every once in a while is almost inevitable, practicing patience with your child is one of the best ways to teach them how to manage their emotions and responses to different situations. In fact, research suggests that how a parent handles their emotions when managing a distressed child significantly influences the child’s emotional development.*
- Teach them how to set and respect boundaries
For most parents, setting boundaries for young kids’ behavior is second nature: No hitting. Don’t interrupt. Wait your turn. As kids get older, however, children need to learn to set their own boundaries and respect the boundaries of others.
Talk with your child about the importance of setting and maintaining boundaries and teach them how to do so. Start small—like teaching them how to say “no” in certain situations without guilt. Having solid boundaries will ultimately help your child conserve emotional and physical energy, improve their mental state, improve their relationships, and help them develop independence.
- Provide active listening
Parents do a lot of talking and teaching, but it’s just as important to provide active listening. Active listening involves giving your child your full attention, making eye contact, and reflecting or repeating what they’re saying. These actions show your child that you care about them and are there for them. It also makes them feel more comfortable opening up to you, which can do wonders for their mental well-being.
One Fun Company is supporting children’s mental health with every SPLATZ & SPLODEZ purchase.
One Fun proudly partners with YourMomCares, a 501(c)3 organization that funds innovative and impactful solutions that address today’s kids’ mental wellness challenges. With each purchase of SPLATZ, we donate a percentage of the sales to YourMomCares.org. Be sure to check out our special YourMomCares x SPLATZ Minis, which come with two 3-ounce mini containers and a holographic SPLATZ sticker.
Not to mention, using SPLATZ adds fun and lightness to the regularly mundane task of handwashing. These little moments of joy and laughter add up and can make a big difference in a child’s mental well-being.
*NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.