What Every Child Needs for Good Mental Health
Do you remember when you were at school and there was a question on the exam paper that read something along those lines; ‘What are the basic needs for humans?’
Every time that question came up, you would be in joy. Why? Because it’s the easiest out of all questions. We would confidently answer food, water, air, shelter and clothing.
And just like everyone, children’s needs include healthy food, a comfortable shelter and warm clothes when it gets cold.
But do you know that there’s a big puzzle missing somewhere in the equation?
Yes? No? Not sure?
Equally as important would be the state of one’s mental health. According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey, around 424,000 children are struggling with mental health problems in Malaysia. This is a very worrisome statistic. Taking care of your children’s mental health should be the utmost priority for everyone.
Good mental health allows your children to think critically, develop socially and learn new skills. Not only that, but it also allows you and your children to organize information, make decisions, analyze strategies and manage a range of emotions as well as forming good relationships with new people.
There are a lot of benefits your children will get when you put their mental health as a priority. Hence, we have listed down 4 basics that your children need for good mental health:-
Develop Children’s Confidence and Self-Esteem
You should start by nurturing your children’s self-esteem and confidence. Whenever your children do something and that something is their first time, always praise them for it (unless of course, if it’s something bad then you need to reprimand them). This helps them to develop a desire to learn and explore their surroundings.
Furthermore, if your children lose a game or fail at something, ask them what they are feeling about the whole situation. Angry? Sad? Or dissatisfied? It is important for them to know that losing or failing is a part of life. Knowing that humans are not perfect can birth new perspectives from their end. They will be less afraid to lose or fail or make mistakes the next time because they know that you don’t have to be great or ace at every challenge all the time. In turn, this will make them very confident and boost their overall mental health.
Play & Make Friends!
To children, play is merely for fun. But here’s the truth they don’t know, playtime helps them to be creative, independent, learn problem-solving skills and maintain their emotional well-being. Running, shouting and zig zagging are not only fun, but they also help children to be physically and mentally healthy.
When they are playing, they often meet new kids who they will connect with and soon become friends. This is a good thing because social interactions are the most basic aspect of human lives. Everyone needs it and by playing with others, they will definitely have an absolute blast.
As the saying goes, ‘the more, the merrier’. Together, they will discover their strengths and weaknesses , develop a sense of belonging and learn how to get along with others. Due to this, your children will be in good mental health.
Showing Unconditional Love
Raising your children with unconditional love means you accept your children completely without any restrictions or limitations. It’s a love that has no boundaries.
But *sigh*… it’s actually hard to pull it off. Deep breathes, parents. It’s okay. Don’t stress yourself out. We know you’re giving your best.
An easy way to show your love is to say ‘I love you’ to your children at least 2-3 times a day. Doing this will connect your bond with your children.
They also need affirmations from you. Other than saying the three magic words, you can also apply words like, ‘I know you will do your best tomorrow’, ‘You are you and don’t change that’ or ‘I am glad you are my child’, and their confidence will increase over time.
If you have more than one child, you might have probably missed this one (again, it’s okay). As a parent, you need to give individual attention to each child. This means having a one-to-one conversation, giving them full and undivided attention – the one that allows your child to feel special. Doing all of this will help to keep your children’s mental health in a great shape.
Establish Appropriate Guidance and Discipline
Children need the opportunity to learn and discover new skills. They also need to learn that some behaviors should not be condoned and that they are responsible for their actions.
Your children need appropriate guidance and discipline throughout their lives. There are some techniques that a lot of parents do to teach their children a lesson but those techniques might have an impact on your children’s mental health.
Instead of saying ‘You are a naughty boy,’ try saying ‘That is not a good thing to do’. Make sure you choose your words wisely and know the distinctions between your children’s behaviors and themselves. Also, try to avoid nagging and focus on saying all the keywords instead. Give children the reasons ‘why’ you are disciplining them and what the potential consequences of their actions might be.
If you accidentally did lose your temper, it is important for you to break the ego walls down and apologize for acting like that. Talk to them about what happened and why you are angry.
Your children’s mental health is important, just like yours! Create the best environment for you and your children! 😉