Most parents focus on the physical health of their children, feeding them nutritional foods, keeping them warm, and taking them to the doctor regularly. Mental well-being is just as important, yet many parents do not consider this. It is never too soon for adults to begin nourishing the mental health of their children. Parents and other caregivers play a critical role in the development of a child’s mental health, directly affecting quality of life.
Mental health is the level of psychological well-being. It deals with the way people feel, think, and behave. Mental health forms the foundation of our learning, communication and thinking skills, emotional growth, self-esteem, and resilience. According to one UK study, one in ten children and teens suffer from mental health problems including behavior disorders, anxiety, and depression. These issues are often direct responses for something going on in their lives.
Children with a good level of mental health develop coping skills and grow into adults that are both healthy and well-rounded. There are many things that parents can do to encourage this outcome. Contributing to good physical health by encouraging plenty of sleep, regular exercise, and a balanced diet is one factor. Establishing a generally harmonious home environment also helps. Though every family has its disagreements, family members should get along well most of the time.
A good school nurtures children educationally, emotionally, and socially, so parents should send their children to the best school available. They should also encourage children to take part in extracurricular and community activities like sports, hobby groups, and volunteering. Caregivers should provide young children with plenty of time to play and encourage similar outlets as the children develop.
Mental health issues usually do not stem from one event, but such an event can trigger issues for maturing children who are already considered vulnerable. A change like a family move, new school, or birth of a sibling may trigger mental health problems. Some teens experience emotional issues due to changes in their bodies and minds. Parents should help these children understand and accept themselves. Otherwise, the youths may resort to drugs or alcohol, which negatively affect mental health.
Risk factors that make some youths more vulnerable to mental health issues include having divorced parents, living in poverty or in an abusive household, and being the subject of discrimination. Having a long-term physical illness or educational difficulties can also put children at risk. Being forced to care for an adult at a young age or having a parent with mental health, substance, or legal problems may make it more likely for a child or young adult to experience mental health problems.
Parents and other caregivers can help by listening to children, taking their feelings seriously, and offering the desired response. Children tend to be more willing to tell parents or other caregivers about issues if they have an open and loving relationship with the adults. A hug, advice, or assistance can help children deal with the difficult life situations they face during their developmental years.