5 Ways to Encourage Good Mental Health in Children

Tomorrow is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. The focus of this day is to raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health and to show that positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development from birth. As primary caregivers, parents play a vital role in the mental health and development of their children. Here are 5 ways you can support your child’s overall mental health.

1. Develop good self care habits

Establishing good self care habits is a great starting point for your child’s mental health. First, make sure your children are eating nutritious food, being physically active every day, and getting adequate sleep each night. Proper diet, exercise, and sleep habits lay the foundation for positive mental and physical health. The elements in this trio share a reciprocal relationship that affects your child’s ability to learn and grow mentally, physically, and emotionally.

2. Promote safe surroundings

Young children experience fear and anxiety that adults may not always understand. Providing a safe, secure home environment for your kids helps reduce this anxiety. It also communicates to kids that their home is a place where they can be open and honest about what is causing them stress. Armed with these insights, you can work with your children to address their concerns.

3. Display love and care

Show children you care through unconditional love. Exhibiting love and acceptance makes children feel secure with you and, more importantly, with themselves. Displaying your acceptance at all times helps your child as he or she is developing self-esteem and confidence in his or her own way.

4. Encourage play time

Another important tip for developing your child’s mental health is to encourage them to play. Let them enjoy being kids. Playing promotes self-control, problem solving skills, and creativity. These three facets of playing help children develop cognitively while reducing their overall anxiety level.

5. Limit screen time

Be it a smart phone, TV, tablet, or computer, screens have become an easy default for keeping children occupied. When children are engaging in this type of entertainment, it is important to establish boundaries: set time limits and monitor what they are playing or watching. If you allow your children to have screen time, look for educational shows and games that will help them grow mentally.

Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day 2017 is a great time to examine the role you play in your child’s mental health and wellbeing. If you’d like to know more about this year’s Awareness Day and the activities taking place across the country, visit the event page from The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA will also webcast the day’s events taking place in Washington, DC at 7PM.