5 Ways to Promote and Support Your Child's Mental Health

Mental health is something that should be talked about more, but what does it really mean and how can we promote it in our children?

The Centers for Disease Control says that "Mental health in childhood means reaching developmental and emotional milestones, while learning how to cope when there are problems."

The earlier a child's emotions and coping skills are developed, the better. Laying down an effective foundation can help them grow into healthy adults who know how to handle themselves in tough situations.

5 Ways to Promote Good Mental Health:

1. It is important to validate feelings rather than negate or stop them. Instead of telling your child they are being too emotional or that everything will be fine when it may not, try validating their feelings. This means being investigators together and asking them questions about what caused the crying episode so you can find out where these strong emotions are coming from. Telling them everything will be fine when it it's not, only teaches your child to suppress their feelings rather than building a tolerance to hard feelings.

2. Help your child verbalize his or her feelings early in age. The more an individual can use words to describe difficult emotions, the less they will rely on expressing themselves through acting out physically. (e.g. hitting or acting out in school, tantrums).

3. Encourage your child to be a problem solver. Protecting a child from every possible failure sends the message that he or she cannot cope. Facing frustrations and failures in bearable bits helps build emotional muscle, which will last him/her a lifetime!

4. Promote empathic behavior. You can do this by wondering with your child how other people may be feeling, especially when they have hurt someone else's feelings. Encourage children to talk through conflicts and hear another point of view as often you can make an apology a natural part of conflict resolution - rather than words that must be recited to avoid punishment.

5. Let your child mange their own emotions. When children are angry with you, it's important to let them manage the feeling on their own. You shouldn't try and fix or change what has happened in order for them get over it faster- because sometimes life just isn’t fair. It teaches them that they have the power to make to make themselves feel better.