As parents our greatest wish for our children is to be happy and healthy and that is why we teach them to eat healthy, nag the children to brush their teeth after every meal and insist on the importance of physical activity. But sadly, mental health is often skimmed over, if not altogether forgotten.
But now more than ever, it’s not something to be ignored. Because the lockdown has reminded us that looking after our mental health isn’t a nice add-on or a fun extracurricular but it’s a fundamental skill that you need to know whether you’re an adult or a Child.
At some point, your children won’t remain the same. They’ll be off, fending for themselves, living their own lives. And the sad truth is, we can’t protect our children from everything. They’ll face their own obstacles in life and it may seem like there’s nothing we can do to shield them. But there is one thing we can offer; we can equip them with the skills they need to look after their mental health. And that gift is truly priceless.
WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH?
In many ways it is similar to our physical health. However instead of looking after our joints and muscles and body temperature, we are caring for our minds, our emotions and our thoughts.
Mental health is a spectrum and so someone with good mental health won’t always be on cloud nine. They’re just able to manage the ups and downs that life brings. Instead of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with negative thoughts or emotions, they can recognise, accept and work through them.
TIPS TO TEACH CHILDREN ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH
- EMOTIONAL CHECK IN: Just like adults’ children also undergo a lot of emotions at the same time. It’s just they don’t know how to label it. And that’s the reason why they show some behavioural tantrums. So, introducing them to different emotions will help them identify the difference.
- TEACH THEM ABOUT BODY IMAGE & SELF ESTEEM: Body image is all about how we think and feel about our bodies physically, and how we believe others perceive us. Research suggests that children as young as five year’s old may start to show dissatisfaction about how they look, according to the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY). Meanwhile, the YMCA’s ‘Be Real’ campaign found that an alarming two thirds (67%) of young people regularly worry about their appearance. So, what can you do to help? If your child is struggling with their body image, encourage them to say some positive affirmations in the mirror or help them jot down the positive aspects of their body that they like. Even if it’s just one thing, it could make a big difference.
- MODEL GOOD HABITS: It can be daunting realising that you’re such a powerful role model for your child. But just as children can mimic our bad behaviours, they can pick up good habits too. This can be used for our advantage. If we express our emotions calmly and confidently, and take steps to look after our mental wellbeing, chances are that our children may copy our behaviour.
- Blog By
Ms. D. vijayalakshmi
School Counselor & CGPS facilitator
The Indian Public School – Salem.
November, 24 2022 | In Blog