What is children’s mental well-being?
We hear about improving Children’s mental well-being daily but what does it really mean and what can you do? Mental wellbeing is as important as their physical well-being, and while there are lots of obvious ways to improve a child’s physical health, it can be hard to know where to start when addressing problems of a child who is struggling with mental health.
If you were to talk about the characteristics of a mentally-well adult, you would probably say that they are emotionally stable, can cope with the stresses of everyday life, and they have a positive attitude about themselves. However, it’s important to highlight the fact that the mental well-being of adults can relate directly to the environment they grew up in as children.
As children grow and develop, they are constantly learning about different emotions and how to handle them. An emotionally well child will feel loved and secure in their home environment, function well in social situations, and generally have a positive outlook on life and are kind to themselves when things don’t go as planned.
Positive and negative
There are certain things that can positively contribute to a child’s mental well-being:
A healthy and balanced diet
Plenty of exercise and fresh air
Freedom to relax and be themselves
Being part of a loving family
Having a hobby or being part of a local club
And there are some things that can have a negative effect:
Traumatic events such as the death of a family member
Big changes such as a new sibling, moving house, parent’s divorce
Bullying, online abuse
Struggling at school
Supporting your child with their mental well-being
Check in with your child regularly and let them know you are there if, and when they have a problem. If they know they will have their feelings taken seriously, and be supported with love and understanding, this will increase the likelihood that they will talk.
Learn how to start conversations with your child in a non-intrusive way. Often doing a short activity together that you both enjoy can encourage a conversation; something such as going for a walk, baking, or doing a jigsaw, is a natural way of allowing a child to open-up without feeling like they are being interrogated.
Stay involved in their lives, be interested in what’s important to them. Encourage and support them with their hobbies.
Encourage a healthy diet, regular exercise, set boundaries at home and keep them in a good routine.
Spotting the signs that a child is struggling
It can be difficult to know when a child is struggling with their mental well-being, especially when it can appear to be typical childish behaviour such as tantrums, teenage grumps, or underachieving at school. However, if these behaviours are prolonged, or get worse, then it might be time to seek help. Other warning signs to look out for include:
Withdrawing from family & friends
There are plenty of resources online with information about children’s mental well-being:
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