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10 Tips to Promote Kids' Mental and Emotional Health
Parents sometimes worry that the mental and emotional health of their children is so complicated that only a professional knows what’s best for them.
Even child psychologists occasionally fall into the trap of thinking that their expertise is necessary when it comes to fostering kids’ emotional health.
The reality is that there are some basic ways to promote children's mental health. Parents, friends, teachers and other professionals who live and work with children are in positions to encourage their growth and correct problems before they begin.
Here are 10 suggestions to promote children's mental and emotional health:
- Read with your child every day as part of the family routine. Bedtime is a great time for reading nursery rhymes and stories.
- Find ways to play with your child that you both enjoy every day. Tell stories, sing, and make rhymes together. Include some type of regular physical activity, such as a walk or bike ride around the neighborhood.
- Provide regular bedtime routines to promote healthy sleep. This time of day can become one of calmness and togetherness for parents and children.
- Model behaviors that you want to see in your child. Parents are their children’s first and most important teachers, and what you do can be much more important than what you say.
- Be consistent with limits for your child and encourage other adults who work with your child to use the same rules. Be supportive and understanding in enforcing limits. Don’t give in, but do quickly forgive. Encourage your child to learn from mistakes so that they do not happen again.
- Help your child find acceptable ways of working through anger and stress. It is okay to be mad, but it is not okay to hit others or destroy property.
- Listen to and respect your child. Remind your child that you welcome discussing concerns, fears and worries. Calmly talk about the issues and listen to what your child has to say.
- Teach your child to ask for help and identify who can help when assistance is needed. Find opportunities to show your child how to ask for help.
- Limit electronics to no more than two hours daily. When you child watches TV or plays computer games, try to participate. You don’t have to impose yourself on your child, but watching electronics doesn’t have to be a solitary activity.
- Praise your child often for even small accomplishments, like playing nicely with siblings, picking up toys, taking turns or being a good sport.
As you can see, there are some simple steps you can take to promote your child’s mental and emotional health. While these actions aren’t cures for serious conditions, they certainly encourage healthy, positive growth, something we all hope and wish for in children.
Dr. Kenneth Roberson is child psychologist in San Francisco with over 20 years of experience. To schedule a free initial consultation, please call 415-922-1122.
© Copyright 2013 by Kenneth Roberson, therapist in San Francisco, California. All rights reserved.