HELPING CHILDREN WITH THEIR MENTAL HEALTH

Take care

Taking care of yourself isn’t just about physical things like brushing your teeth and eating healthy — although those are important too. Be sure to teach your child about emotional health.

Teach good habits

Whether it’s through mindfulness, meditation, or exercise, daily self-care is important. Exercise, especially, has health benefits beyond physical fitness. In fact, as little as 20 to 25 minutes of moderate activity a day has been shown to protect against symptoms of depression.* Encourage your child to try new things until they find a routine that works for them.

Adults can teach good habits in lots of ways. To start, you can:

  • Be a good role model. Your child learns from your example, so be sure to talk about and manage your own mental health. And if you feel good, you’ll be in a better position to help them make mental health a part of their daily routine.

  • Take advantage of free tools. Online tools put self-care at your fingertips. You can find many child-friendly mobile apps and websites with personalized guidance, activities, and even one-on-one coaching with a trained peer or professional.

  • Reduce their risk. Start by creating a healthy home for your child. Monitor their media usage and watch for signs of distress. Then talk to them about how to identify and manage their stress when they experience hard situations away from home.

Prepare for tough times

Everyone faces adversity from time to time. You can help reduce stress and anxiety by creating a plan. Help your child understand that they will likely have to deal with difficult things in their life. But if they are aware of how they react to these tough situations, they can learn how to be calm in crisis.

SOURCES

*Felipe B. Schuch, PhD, et al. “Physical Activity and Incident Depression: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies,” The American Journal of Psychiatry, April 25, 2018, doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2018.17111194

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