Simple Ways You Can Help Your Child Feel Happier
You might look back on your own childhood through rose-colored glasses, but being a kid isn’t all lemonade stands and coloring books. It’s incredibly easy for kids to feel overwhelmed and stressed with everything going on in their lives. And even though you’re their parent, you might not even realize it. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, one in five children has a diagnosable mental health disorder, but only 21 percent of those kids receives the necessary treatment.
Look at Michigan specifically and the statistics get worse. Michigan ranks 44th out of the 50 states for the prevalence of mental illness in youth, according to studies by Mental Health America. The same study found that more than 6.2 million children in America suffer from an emotional, behavioral or development issue, and that more than eight percent of America’s youth have attempted suicide in the past year.
So what can you do? Talking to your child about stress, anxiety and depression and teaching proper tools to deal with those issues is key. In an effort to improve your child’s mental health and get the conversation started, try these five techniques:
- Give unconditional love and support. It sounds obvious, but it’s so important to be there for your child no matter what. Creating an environment where children feel constantly supported can help your child feel comfortable sharing their feelings. Two easy ideas: Write encouraging notes in their lunch boxes or place little notes of encouragement on the mirror before they get ready in the morning.
- Nurture your child’s confidence. With the ongoing pressure to keep up in school and in extracurricular activities, it can be easy for a child to lose their confidence. Help build your child’s self-esteem by setting realistic goals for your child, praising them for accomplishments and avoiding sarcasm. A confident child believes they can achieve their goals and knows they’ll be supported even if they fall short.
- Encourage playtime. It might be easy to just turn on the TV, but try spending time playing with your child away from the screen. Jigsaw puzzles, nature walks and arts and crafts help your child learn critical thinking and keeps them active. Also encourage your kids to play with other children—it’s important for them to have fun and let loose with other kids.
- Make school more fun. One of the biggest sources of stress for young kids is the concept of going to school. Start early by playing school with your young ones so they see it as a fun place. And once your kid starts going, begin every after-school conversation by asking if they did anything fun or learned something cool.
- Provide a safe place. You want your child to feel comfortable talking about things that make them feel embarrassed or ashamed. Never criticize or discipline your child for opening up to you. And don’t wait for them to come to you. Regularly checking in on how they’re doing can help establish and maintain an open and comfortable relationship with your child that can last a lifetime.
Interested in discovering more about improving mental health in kids? Keep learning by reading the following blogs:
- Should You Be Raising Little Meditators?
- Seven Signs Your Child Might Be the Victim of Bullying
- Mentally Preparing Yourself and Your Child for College
Check out our #MIKidsCan page for blog posts, contests and upcoming healthy community events.
Image: Guilherme Jofili