One of the biggest lessons societies has learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is the importance of mental wellness, and that it should be cultivated at all ages. Children have social, emotional, and physical needs that contribute to their overall well-being that need to be taken care of, just like adults. Part of growing up happy and healthy is cultivating good habits for mental wellness as much as physical wellness, so at Stretch-n-Grow we make sure our focus is on a well-rounded curriculum to promote both.
Below are 5 tips for promoting mental health for kids, or for anyone at any age, to promote mental wellness.
- Have family rules. Studies conducted by family counselors show that when children are given too many options or no structure, and are allowed to make up their own rules, they can experience anxiety. In households with multiple children, it can create a sense of unfairness. Having a set of rules that apply to everyone in the house can give guidance and maintain peace between siblings. Finding the balance between total free-reign and too many rules is an important part of parenting but can also facilitate mental well-being of small children.
- Have a schedule. Much like having rules, having consistent wake-up times, bedtimes, mealtimes, and play-times create a structure that gives children a safe environment to learn and explore. Because kids do not have good internal clocks, they would play all day and not necessarily go to bed when they are tired, eat healthy when they are hungry, or stop themselves from being over-extended.
- Make outdoor time part of the routine when weather allows. Sometimes the weather is inclement, and it is important to find games to play inside. However, when the weather is good, letting kids run around, get some Vitamin D, and engage with the outside world is a good way for them to learn, allow the body to release the happy hormone known as serotonin, and challenge themselves.
- Allow children to make, and learn from, their mistakes. It can be easy to want to stop children from ever experiencing the sadness of making a mistake, watching a tower carefully constructed for an hour collapse, or fail a test. However, studies show that children learn best experientially, and that if a mistake will not cause bodily injury, it is often better to allow a kid to make a mistake, color outside the lines, or not do well on an assignment in the long-term. They have better coping skills and are prepared for when they experience the unexpected.
- Demonstrate positive and healthy relationships. Kids are always watching the adults around them, so demonstrating healthy communication and good conflict resolution is an important part of helping them develop those skills. It can also contribute to an overall more peaceful environment for them in which they can grow and thrive. It is not possible to control everything to which a child is exposed, or what a family experiences, but handling it well can be healthy for the parent or guardian, as well as benefit the long-term mental health of the child.
What are some of your favorite ways to create an environment that is as good for mental health as for physical health for the kids in your life?
By: Bethany Verrett