Counseling means hope.
Mental Health 101: How to Support Your Child
For children of all ages, it is important to promote and support good mental health practices so that they can grow up to lead healthy and successful lives. By investing in your child’s mental health early on, you will be more likely to spot signs of mental health problems in the future and help your child successfully work through challenges that may come their way.
FamilyMeans Counseling & Therapy provides these six tips on how to support the mental health of your child.
1. Build Strong Relationships
It is important that your child has someone they can go to no matter the situation. Often this is a parent, but can be another influential person in his or her life as well. This person must be reliable, open, and understanding.
A good way to start building this relationship is by setting up a regular check-in time. Many use their evening meal to check-in as they can sit together, with no distractions, and have real discussions. Be sure to set a time for the check-in and stick to it. Reliability is very important in building a strong relationship.
2. Help Promote Positive Self-Esteem
Help them to feel good about themselves. Not everything is going to go their way, they may not look how they want, get the grades they desire, or be happy all the time, but by showing them unconditional love and acceptance you can help your child to work through those challenges.
Assist your child in setting realistic goals. Praise them when they do well and recognize their efforts when they do not do so well. Make sure they understand that it is ok to be sad or angry if they do not succeed, then help them re-examine the goal, deciding on changes for the next time around.
Focus on the positives! Remind them that no matter how something turns out, you will be there to support them and work through issues with them.
3. Intently Listen
In our hectic lives, it can be hard to find time to talk without distractions. Between cell phones constantly sending notifications and televisions blaring background noise, the quiet needed to give full and undivided attention is hard to come by but extremely important in being a good listener. Be aware of your surroundings when speaking with your child, try to remove any distractions so that you can provide full attention. This is difficult to do 24/7, and that is why having a specific, distraction free check-in time is so important.
4. Ask Powerful Questions
As important as it is to listen, it is equally important to ask powerful questions. By asking questions you are probing conversation and showing that you really are invested in what your child is talking to you about. The most powerful questions require your child to do some self-discovery and come to answers on their own. Some examples of powerful questions are:
How does that make you feel? Why does it make you feel that way?
What do you think could have been done differently?
What did you learn from that situation?
How do you think that person feels?
5. Create a Safe Home Space
Having a place to sleep, food on the table, and clean clothes to wear is important for your child’s mental health. If these essentials are not secure, contact FamilyMeans for information on local resources that can support you and your family. Once those essentials are established, it is important that your child feel protected and healthy in their home. Avoid discussing tough topics in front of your child such as finances, marital problems, or illnesses. Be sure that they are getting plenty of physical activity and not spending too much time on electronics. Be a good role model!
6. Teach How to Calmly Work Through Problems
Remember, it is ok for your child to get mad, sad, and even angry. However, it is important to teach them ways to calm themselves when a problem arises. Focusing on taking steady, deep breaths is an easy way to calm down in any location. At times, removing yourself from a situation also helps. Encourage your child to take a walk, or spend time alone quietly. Once calm, help them to assess the situation and work through the problem.
There is not one correct way to parent. Each child is different and needs support from you in different ways. These six steps can help you to support your child’s mental health, but are not always all that your child may need. FamilyMeans Counseling & Therapy offers individual counseling for you and/or your child. We also offer family counseling, which allows for both you and your child to work through challenges together. Learn more about ways that we can help you to support the mental health of your child at FamilyMeans.org.