Mental health is all over the media. We hear about anxiety, depression, and a myriad of other mental health problems, but we rarely talk about what can be done before a diagnosis to help people be as mentally and emotionally healthy as possible. Here are three ways to protect your child’s mental health!
1. Teach them it’s okay to say no to things
Teach your teen to know their limits, and not be afraid to say no to extra things that will go beyond them! It might be really fun to take part in the school play, but if they are already struggling under the weight of what they are doing, adding something new will probably not help. Something has to go, and saying no is a crucial way to prevent overcommitment and burnout. Make sure your child knows it is alright to say no when it feels like they might be doing too much, and stay consistent with the limits you set on yourself and your child.
2. Keep early childhood simple
In a world full of stimuli, it is no wonder little ones may feel overwhelmed! Keeping life simple during early childhood can help protect them from mental illnesses that can be triggered from the busyness and “too much.” It is easy to want to sign them up for every activity they express interest in, and many parents sacrifice to make sure their children get to pursue things they love! While it is amazing to watch kids try new things and learn, too much of a good thing is still too much.
3. Let them know it is safe to talk about what they are thinking and how they are feeling
An estimated 15 million young people in the USA can be diagnosed with a mental disorder, but many of them may not even know it. Make sure your children, regardless of age, feel safe to express their thoughts and feelings to you! Keep an eye out for warning signs, from severe mood changes to substance abuse, and have honest conversations with your child about those experiences. You may be able to help them before their struggles become something more serious!
Now you are ready to go and help your child become the best they can be, and help prevent some of the struggles that many people in their generation may be struggling with.