Looking After Your Child’s Emotional Well-beingIN CHILDREN'S HEALTH
A child’s mental and emotional health are as important as his or her physical health. Good mental health enables children to think clearly, develop socially, and learn new skills. Unconditional love, a sense of security, acceptance, friendship, fun, encouragement, and discipline combine to help children develop self-confidence, high self-esteem, and a healthy emotional outlook on life. Without these conditions, a child may suffer poor performance in school, excessive worry or anxiety, withdrawal from social and educational opportunities, sleep interrupted by nightmares, uncontrollable temper outbursts or aggression, sadness, and even depression.
Just like physical essentials such as nutritious food, adequate sleep, regular exercise, and a healthy environment, mental health essentials don’t always occur naturally in life. According to the National Mental Health Association (www.nmha.org), the following areas are vitally important for your child’s mental well-being: confidence and self-esteem, and guidance and discipline.
Confidence and Self-Esteem
Your children need to understand that your love doesn’t depend on their accomplishments. Mistakes and defeats are part of life and should be expected and accepted. Your children’s confidence can grow and become healthy in a home that has unconditional love and affection. Specific things you can do to help nurture your children’s self-confidence are:
- Praise, encourage, and assure your children. Help them learn to do their best and to enjoy the process.
- Help your children set realistic goals that test their abilities.
- Be honest with your children about your own life. It’s important for them to know that everyone makes mistakes.
Guidance and Discipline
Guidance and discipline will help your children learn that they are responsible for their actions and that certain behaviors are unacceptable. You can teach your children these two important lessons by practicing guidance and discipline that is fair and consistent. It’s easier said than done, but it’s important that you try because children will carry these valuable behaviors and awarenesses into the rest of their lives. When possible, try to:
- Be firm—but kind and realistic—with your expectations.
- Set a good example. Practice the behaviors you wish your children to adopt.
- Criticize the behavior, not the child.
- Avoid nagging, threats, and bribery.
- Talk about your feelings, particularly if you lose your temper. It will help your children understand your behavior. Remember—it’s okay to apologize to them if you were wrong.
|Time to Play
According to the National Mental Health Association (www.nmha.org), play helps children learn to be creative, solve problems, and practice self-control. So, encourage your children to play. Playing with others will help your children discover their strengths and weaknesses and learn how to get along with people. You can play with your child, as well. It will give you time to talk and share ideas in a relaxed setting.
Winning Isn’t Everything
While you’re playing, help your child see by your example that winning is not as important as being involved and enjoying the time. Children are experimenting and learning. The goal-oriented, success-driven ways of adults may discourage children and inhibit their opportunities for intellectual growth.
Sources: nmha.org, mentalhealth.samhas.gov, nimh.nih.gov© 2013. True North Custom Media. All Rights Reserved.