Parenting tips: 5 tips to help boost your child's mental health
Expert shares five tips that can help a parent boost their child's mental health, primarily, when implemented early
Managing children and trying to help them become well-rounded adults, is not an easy task and while most parents are concerned about the physical well-being of their children by taking them to a paediatrician, giving them nutritious meals and helping them with their homework, their mental health is often ignored! While children are guilty of spending considerable time online, the recent Covid-19 pandemic increased their screen time, opening a pandora’s box of psychologically adverse issues, making it a serious concern for parents and educators alike.
According to a study published in the Lancet, children between two to three years spend more than three hours a day viewing screens such as tablets and television. These children tend to grow up less physically active at age 5.5 years, compared to those who use screens for an hour or less each day, affecting their mental health as well.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Fabian Almeida, Consultant Psychiatrist at Fortis Hospital in Kalyan, revealed five tips that can help a parent boost a child's mental health, primarily, when implemented early:
1. Spend time with your children - There is no alternative to spending good quality time with children, as it has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to bond with them. Instead of spending money on things, it is more vital to spend time with them so that they feel safe and loved. Both parents must take time each day to do activities together that include playing together, watching a movie or just discussing their day.
2. Please pay attention to what your children say - Many times, parents tend to ignore what their children tell them as they feel it is not essential. However, this should be avoided because children tend to communicate their feelings verbally to their parents. If proper communication channels are not created in the beginning, children tend to hide important information from their parents, which can have negative consequences in the future. Additionally, suppose your child is not communicative, it is vital to help them open up and establish straightforward modes of communication so that they have someone to share their thoughts, dreams, ambitions and much more!
3. Give your child the praise that they deserve - While every parent reprimands and scolds their child for any wrong that they do, it is equally important to praise them for the goodness that you see in them. When this is done, it helps the child to focus on excellent behaviour and feel good about themselves. It is also a good idea to reward their good conduct with small non-luxurious incentives, as that will go a long way in encouraging them.
4. Have realistic expectations - Comparisons are never a good idea as they may make the child feel inferior. To achieve good parenting, it is essential to bolster children's self-esteem and motivate them to achieve their unique goals instead of comparing them to friends and siblings. Even if a child reaches a small milestone, praising them for their efforts and helping them improve their performance through constructive discussions is essential.
5. Inculcate behaviours that help them tackle stress and anxiety - In today's competitive world, stress and anxiety affect almost everyone. While we cannot change the outside world, we can teach our children habits and behaviours, that will help them compellingly tackle this stress. Accepting stress as a part of our life, and balancing it within the realm of healthy thoughts and behaviours, without overstepping into the unhealthy, pathological zone; is the challenge that we all must learn to deal with, early in life. For example, they are bound to have disagreements with friends and fail homework assignments at one time or another. In such a scenario, they need the skills to overcome these hurdles, and build their mental strength so that it does not impact their daily functioning. Teach your child ways to tackle stress, like journaling, meditation, and reaching out to family and friends so that they can handle the stress and anxiety they encounter in their lives, without affecting their overall positive outlook.
Besides, facilitating help seeking behaviours in times of emotional crisis, without shame or stigma, goes a long way in securing and stabilizing, future mental health. Let’s each one pledge to do our bit and put the pieces of life’s masterpiece together!