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3 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Mental Health & Wellness

By Renée

December 17, 2021

child wellness, emotional intelligence, emotionally intelligent parenting, hoppy & poppie pinkcheeks, wellness, wellness practices

Wellness is a term that has only recently entered the mainstream, but it’s a concept that has been with us longer than we may realize. Rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation are all things we’ve needed for survival since before civilizations. But even people who believe strongly in wellness are unaware of how to improve a child’s mental health and wellness.

What may look like child’s play to us actually requires a lot of energy and effort and children need the same level of access to rest and alone time that adults need. Child wellness is all about how parents can make this rejuvenation happen at home and improve their children’s wellbeing. The 3 best ways to improve your child’s mental health and wellness are through our daily practices and routines, our children’s healthcare, and through support networks. Let’s dive into each of these ideas and see what we can do as parents to get involved.

  

Daily Practice

How we shape our children’s daily routines will affect them well into their adulthood. Many of us still follow many of the same daily routines as when we were kids, sometimes even without realizing it. But even more than just our morning and nightly routines, there are a few daily practices that can truly improve your child’s mental health and wellness in meaningful ways.

little boy meditating child wellness

—Yoga, Meditation, and More. Doing yoga or meditation with a child can seem impossible when they’re running around the house playing. But it is a great way to build a strong bond as well as a strong wellness routine. Children will respond to anything that is fun and by turning yoga and meditation into a fun game, everybody will benefit from it. For some ideas on how to make wellness fun for kids, sign up for my free emotional intelligence guide here. It goes in-depth on specific strategies that can facilitate building these many emotional intelligence skills.

If your child has trouble sitting still, start by rewarding them for trying, no matter what the length of time is. Then reward them for increasing that time to 5 minutes, then 10, however much they can do. Eventually they’ll become more used to the routine and begin to understand the importance of maintaining a clear headspace. The many benefits of yoga and meditation are well known on this blog, but if you need a reminder, you can check out this article here.

—Reading together. One of my favorite daily practices that I find not enough parents are doing is reading together. Whether it’s done together with a small child to help their reading comprehension, or whether you’re picking up books for your teenager and encouraging them to stay engaged with whatever they want to read, reading is so important.

Doesn’t it sometimes feel like we’re all developing memory issues and have more trouble paying attention since the internet and devices became commonplace parts of our lives? I know I certainly feel that way and young kids are growing up with these technologies around them from birth, which raises some concerns. Reading is a way to improve focus, relationships, engagement, memory, and reduce the burnout associated with excessive screen time. When done before naps and bed-time, it also helps foster the necessary sleep that little kids and toddlers need to develop healthy bodies and minds.

 

Managing Health 

Healthcare is one of the most stressful parts of parenting, and it’s understandable. There is so much that can go wrong that it tends to turn us parents into hypochondriacs. There are many ways that parents can be involved in managing their child’s healthcare that will really make a positive difference. But why is it important to effectively manage children’s health?

When we don’t manage our child’s health effectively, we not only put their physical wellbeing in danger, but it can also lead to declines in:

  • Performance in academics
  • Performance in sports
  • Participation in extracurricular activities
  • Mental health
  • Emotional health

One quote I keep coming back to comes from the Roman poet, Virgil. “The greatest wealth is health.” This quote is great because it stresses the importance of health in all areas of life. It’s so difficult to make meaningful changes when we don’t start from a place of good health. But healthcare is a tricky subject and can often be out of our control. Let’s look at a few things that are in our control and can make a huge difference when it comes to improving your child’s wellness. 

—Self-care. In times of stress or crisis, our children look up to us as their parents to keep them safe. That’s why it’s so important that we prioritize our own self-care and wellness routines in order to be fully prepared to face the surprising challenges of being a parent. What this doesn’t mean is that we have to do it alone. Part of ensuring our own self-care can be receiving support from others when we need it. Whether it’s a spouse, babysitter, relative, or friend, this support can help us maintain our priorities and be there for our children when we’re needed. This is one of many great ways to model resiliency for our children.

—Get a Professional’s Perspective. Right along with having the support we need, it’s also important to know when to get professionals involved. So many parents think they can do it all and feel the burden of that responsibility. They see bringing in outside help as a form of failure on their part. But this just simply isn’t true and is an unfair attitude and pressure we put on ourselves. Think of things like allergies. They can be so pervasive and difficult to deal with and can lead to so many problems for a child. Without consulting a professional and finding out exactly what our child’s allergy needs are, we are only left guessing about what could be the issue. This is just one of many examples where professional help is critical to ensuring child wellness and wellbeing are prioritized. 

—Stress Reduction. Stress is a primary component when it comes to healthcare. Too much stress can bring down anyone’s health, including children’s. When facing important tests or exams, stressful social interactions, or important performances or recitals, this stress can take a toll on child wellness. As parents, there’s only so much we can do about this, as stress is a natural reaction to growing up and facing greater and more difficult challenges. But that doesn’t mean our children have to suffer because of it. If your child is particularly sensitive to this stress, be there for them with reassuring words. One failed test or performance is not the end of the world. Bring them to the park or on a family trip, anything to have a fun distraction. Sometimes just knowing that their parents are there for them in stressful times can be enough to make the difference. 

 

Improving Your Child’s Mental Health and Wellness

father and son camping child wellness

—Communicate and Tell Stories. Parents need to talk frequently to their children about what is going on in both their lives and their child’s life. Share your own experiences in life, in an age appropriate manner, and kids will stay engaged. They can connect to you through stories about your life, just be sure to not tell the same stories over and over again; unless your elderly, then it’s expected! Stories help encourage open discussion, un-self-conscious behavior, and healthier self-awareness. Speaking to babies, toddlers and young children, genuinely, authentically and transparently, also helps strengthen the bonding process and expands their emotion vocabulary. 

—Be Ready. Parents need to be aware of their children, especially looking for signs of changes in behavior. These events, while completely normal, can sometimes be associated with something more going on underneath the surface. All sorts of things can cause changes in behavior. Issues like bullying, changes at home, or feelings of inadequacy can all be at the root of minor changes you notice. The important thing is that we’re aware of these changes happening and we’re ready to step in when needed. Many kids will not want to talk about it or may not know how to talk about it, which is why it’s important to exercise intuitiveness and empathy. Let your kids know that you’re there for them, trust them, and have their best interests in mind. Foster their awareness of what is going on underneath the surface and empower them to handle the situation. 

 

Wellness is a subject that’s going to receive a lot of attention from both me and the world in 2022. Our lives have all been impacted in tremendous ways these past few years as COVID is equivalent to a worldwide traumatic experience that we are still learning how to come to terms with. Wellness will help us to maintain our well-being and be our best selves through challenging times.

Wellness is not about ignoring issues and moving on with our days in spite of them, but instead figuring out how to live with issues while they exist alongside us. Crucial conversations need to begin in childhood and I hope these 3 ways to improve your child’s mental health and wellness are helpful for making that happen. What are your family’s practices for improving your child’s mental health and wellness and how do you think they’ve helped you through the pandemic? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below and have a great holiday season out there!

 

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