How To Help Your Child And Teenager’s Mental Health

child mental health

In a world where mental health problems are more rampant, the importance of child mental health cannot be overstated, because mentally healthy children are more likely to grow into mentally healthy adults. Although mental health discussions are increasing in Nigeria, many parents remain unsure how they can help their child’s mental health.

Some do not think that mental health is an issue worth exploring. Indeed, phrases like the ones below are not uncommon in our society:

‘What is all this noise about mental health and you being unhappy?’

‘How can a child like you be depressed?

‘What are you thinking about?’

But first, let us address the elephant in the room. 

What is mental health?

Mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community” – World Health Organization (W.H.O). 

Another definition of mental health by the W.H.O is a state of balance, both within and with the environment.

So, Why Is It Important To Protect Your Child’s Mental Health?

Adolescence is a turbulent period for most children because of the rapid changes happening in their bodies. Along with these changes, children are also emotionally labile during this period. All these can make life overwhelming for your child’s still maturing brain.

Hence, your child needs all the support you can give, and you need to create an emotionally safe space for him or her.

Here’s how you can take care of your child’s mental health:

Talk to them regularly:

Constant communication with your child will help nurture your relationship, and teach your child to trust you. So, make time out to have conversations with your child regularly. It can be during the drive to school, or before bedtime. Whatever you do, and no matter how busy you get, ensure that your child sees you as someone they can confide in and ask questions.

Don’t be harsh:

Correct your child with love, not harsh words or abuse. 

Don’t respond to your child’s mistakes with critical words or abusive words. Doing this damages your child’s mental health and confidence.

Although it may not always seem like it, your children believe what you say. Thus, whenever you insult or use harsh words with your children, you hurt their mental health and sense of safety with you. It can be hard to practice, but correcting your child with love will help their mental health.

Help them use the internet safely:

Young children today are exposed to the internet at an early age. This exposure, if harnessed right, can be a tool for learning and proper development.

You can teach your child how to be productive on the web, and manage their social media use. Parent filtering apps and settings on their phones or the cable tv (DSTV) can help you protect your children from inappropriate content. Also, regular monitoring and conversations with your child about their social media activities are crucial. 

Allow them to have hobbies:

While it is great to give your child the necessary academic push to get ahead, ensure that you let your child be a child. Let them have hobbies and discover what they enjoy. Engaging in rest and developing hobbies will help your kid’s mental health.

Give them positive models:

Children copy what they see most times. Ergo, as you do your best to ensure that your child is healthy mentally, take care of your mental health as well. Make sure you develop beneficial routines like meditation and exercise that boost your mental health. Also, work hard with your partner to create a haven for your offspring.

If you are worried about your child’s mental health and would like to speak to a professional, you can do so here