Ways to Encourage Positive Mental Health Habits
Developing healthy coping mechanisms/strategies is not an innate ability and as children continue to grow, there are some ways parents and caregivers can assist in helping them obtain good mental health habits.
Talk openly about mental health. There is still a stigma surrounding mental illness which discourages people from talking about any mental health challenges they may be facing. When you talk openly about mental health, you are promoting a safe environment that will encourage them to seek support and help when it is needed.
Model your own healthy habits. Children learn by observing. As you model positive mental health habits, it helps you and demonstrates how to manage life’s stressors. Your child may not adopt exactly what you do and that is ok. Support them in finding and developing their own strategies and interests to sustain good mental health. These may later be used as their own strategy to sustain good mental health.
Spend time together as a family. Children need love, time and attention. Setting time aside to be with your child produces a stronger bond, makes them feel valued and loved. Life can become chaotic and at times this can be difficult to achieve. Invite them to join you in an activity you enjoy to reduce stress. Incorporate these activities into your family’s weekly routine and acknowledge the mental health benefits of the activity.
Participate in community or volunteer activities. Children will meet and connect with new people. They will experience a sense of belonging and purpose, and will learn how to relate to others.
Encourage regular exercise. This is important for children and adolescent because not only do they require at least 1 hour of daily physical exercise, but it is one of the most effective strategies for maintaining a healthy mind. Exercising stimulates chemicals that improve our moods and allow us to channel negative energy positively.
Praise your child’s efforts and behavior. When we are praised on something we did, we feel good about ourselves, and our confidence and self-esteem increases. Praise also helps to motivate kids and encourage them to continue to try new things.