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Helping Your Child Navigate Mental Health
Helping Your Child Navigate Mental Health
21 Jun 2022

According to the World Health Organization, 10% - 20 % of children experience some form of mental health illness. This increases when children reach adolescence and their mid-20s.

Navigating our way through mental health illnesses is a constant learning curve but being able to offer the support our children need when it comes to dealing with it can make it easier for them to cope with difficult situations as they transition from being a child into an adult. These are some of the ways in which you can start supporting your child's mental health.


Keep communication open and honest

Creating a safe space for your child to feel seen and heard can create trust. It also makes it easier for them to approach you with difficult conversations or situations they are currently facing. However, there are instances when we don't know what to say to get the conversation going. Asking 'how are you doing' may not yield the best results, but having a handy tool such as these conversation starter tips can help. Switch things up by engaging with them through an activity where you can bond and create a safe space for them to feel free to open up. Always keep in mind that the aim is to listen and understand.


Create positive routines with clear boundaries

Creating structure and stability can be one of the ways in which you can create a space that is safe and encouraging, especially when a child is faced with challenging situations outside of the home. Aim to create a routine that introduces them to a sense of structure, healthy eating, and exercise. Having good sleep hygiene habits can also create a balance without your child feeling left exhausted and overwhelmed. 


Look for behavioural changes

We experience a wide range of emotions outside of being happy, sad or depressed. Humans experience 34,000 emotions to be exact. However, not having the words to express how we feel can lead to frustration and a sense of feeling overwhelmed, more so when it comes to children. Behavioural changes are common among children but keeping an eye out for unusual behaviour such as being withdrawn or isolating themselves can be an indicator that something is wrong. Asking them how they are feeling and offering reassurance when they are unable to express themselves can create a healthy coping mechanism that they can use even when they are adults. 


Show them healthy coping skills to help deal with difficult emotions

Understanding the array of emotions, we go through can be done through an emotion wheel that can pinpoint what we are feeling. Feelings come and go. And in some cases, they may not always be a true reflection of what we could be struggling to express. This is equally challenging for children who may feel lost, confused and even frustrated for the lack of not being able express themselves. Teaching your child healthy coping skills such as slowing down, breathing techniques and also going for a time out, a walk or doing something that relaxes them can prevent situations from escalating. Modelling this behaviour can also be more affective.


Showing children, love, support and reassurance can be one of the most useful tools in your arsenal when it comes to walking them through mental health issues. Reach out for support from qualified psychologists who can help you and your child move forward together.

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