As parents and caregivers, we play a huge role in supporting and nourishing our children’s mental health. Our children are like sponges, they soak everything up! We can use this to our advantage by being a positive role model for them and instilling healthy habits both physically and mentally. .
By nurturing your child’s mental wellbeing, you can help them to better face adversity, to be kind to themselves when things don’t go the way they expect, and to be resilient and empathetic to others. It’s important to offer guidance that is fair and consistent, and always follow through with what you say to avoid mixed messages.
Here’s how parents can help with their child's mental health and wellbeing:
Teach your child to foster meaningful relationships and learn vital social skills (like the ability to read social cues both verbally and non-verbally) by creating a close relationship with them. When listening to your child speak, give them your full attention and be present so that they truly feel heard and validated. Most importantly, make the time to connect with them every day.
Let’s be honest, we all make mistakes. It’s important to allow our children to see that it’s okay to make mistakes and how you can learn from your mistakes. Modelling healthy behaviours involving mistakes will teach your child to become more resilient, to not live in the past and to move forward in a healthy manner. Learning to manage their feelings is very important to a child’s mental health.
Healthy habits are essential to your child’s mental health. It can be something as simple as eating healthily, getting to bed early, or exercising regularly. It’s important to explain to your child why these habits are so beneficial, as this will help them start to take responsibility for their own self-care and have the internal dialogue around these habits.
Pay attention to your child’s needs both physically and emotionally. By showing empathy when responding to their needs, we’re offering them support which can encourage them to be open and communicative with us. This helps to build a strong foundation based on love, trust and security.
Children can tell when their parents are genuinely interested in them so make sure that you’re asking them questions and giving them your full attention when it comes to their interests. This will help them safely share their feelings and experiences with you.
Being able to discuss how you feel, and why, will help your child feel good about themselves. Life is full of ups and downs, joys, disappointments, as well as fears. Teaching them to recognise emotions and that it is completely normal to be feeling this way can help make sure that little concerns stay small, and don’t erupt into something bigger.
In summary, as a parent, we can nurture our children’s mental health by building a supportive relationship with them, one in which they feel seen and heard and their needs are met. Your child’s mental wellbeing should be part of the overall health and wellness of their lives.