How to promote mental strength in children
Every year SAMSHA, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, facilitates Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, a day to raise awareness, provide resources, and break the stigma against mental illness in children. The CDC reports that 1 in 6 school-aged children exhibit enough behavioral or emotional symptoms and impairment to be diagnosed with a childhood mental health disorder.
Unfortunately, these symptoms are often chalked up to childhood antics and many children go untreated and undiagnosed. Especially on the heels of a global pandemic, tremendous amounts of stress are placed on children as they navigate remote learning, isolation, and uncertainty. It's up to the adults in their life to offer the support and encouragement needed to treat mental health.
"We can all support children’s mental health & well-being by providing an open, safe space for children to express themselves. You can create this sense of safety by being calm and reassuring, active listening, and validating their feelings," says Lisa Romano, LPC, ACS, Director of Outpatient and IOP Services.
Psychotherapists find that teaching children mental strength helps them achieve their greatest potential, work through tough times, and develop a healthy relationship with mental health. So, how can you teach your child to be mentally strong?
Here are 5 different ways kids show mental strength and how you can help your child stay mentally well:
Children who empower themselves don't let others' feelings affect their own worth. If a classmate gets a better grade, they don't beat themselves up over it. Help your child remove the negativity in their own thought process by encouraging catchphrases to repeat that will empower them. For example, "All I can do is try my best" or "I am enough".
Change is not comfortable for anyone, but it can be especially difficult for children to adapt to new surroundings. Mentally strong kids understand that change is a part of life and choose to see it as a positive rather than a negative. During a big change in life, sit down with your child to openly express feelings and validate them.
3. Healthy Boundaries
From a very young age, children are taught that saying "no" is not acceptable and rude in many situations. As they get older, this idea transfers to all aspects of life when saying "no" and setting healthy boundaries is an essential skill to maintain mental wellness. Help your child empower themselves to make their own decisions.
Fall down seven times, stand up eight. Failure is inevitable for children, but rather than giving up, mentally strong kids persist and try again and again. If your child is feeling defeated, remind them that they are strong enough to persevere.
5. Support for Others
Children who celebrate others' successes are known to be more mentally strong than others. Jealousy is a natural, understandable feeling, especially as a kid, but it's important to teach your children to support others rather than feeling negatively about that person. When someone else in their life succeeds, encourage them to cheer them on and recognize an admirable trait they can mirror themselves.
Children's mental health manifests differently for each individual, but helping your child build a skillset can help in the long run.
Check out these tips to keep the conversation open and honest when starting a mental health dialogue with your child. "If you're concerned that a child is struggling, ask them how you can help. The more you can include the child in the process, the better," Romano adds. If your child is struggling, Acenda offers counseling and therapy services specifically for children and adolescents.
Call our main number at 844-4-ACENDA (844-422-3632 x9500) for more information or to schedule an appointment.