The vast majority of modern parents attach great importance to the health of their children. Children are taught to brush their teeth every day, taken to doctors in case of any disease or for preventive examinations. Most parents take care of their children’s balanced diet, which will be rich in various vitamins and other nutrients. As a society we know that physical health is very important. What about taking care of your child’s mental health? Are we aware of how to maintain prevention in this area?
The mental health of a child is as important as physical health
When the tooth hurts, we go to the dentist. When we break our arm, we go to the orthopedist. When we see worse, we check our eyesight with an ophthalmologist. We teach our children the same thing. No one is questioning how important for health is movement and active recreation. More and more people are practicing sports on a regular basis, which can be seen on city streets, in parks and city forests.
However, we must remember that there is no such thing as full health without mental health. After all, during our lives we experience not only physical damage such as a broken arm, but also mental damage such as: loneliness, rejection, failure. They also cause suffering that has to be dealt with somehow.
The ability to recognize and name emotions
Our mental life is very rich and varied. From birth to our last moments we experience different feelings and emotions. These are important because they inform about our reactions to external stimuli. Anger tells us that maybe someone has crossed our boundaries. Sadness is the information that we have lost something valuable to us. Joy tells us what we are good at and what we need. Fear is an alarm signal about the imminent danger. And so on. Every emotion is important. Every emotion enriches our everyday life.
How much easier is it to move around in this everyday life when we understand what we are experiencing and are able to react appropriately to it? When we get angry with someone, we can draw their attention. On the other hand, when we are sad, we can cry, cuddle up to someone, go for a long walk into the forest. When we are afraid of something, we can quickly go to a safe place.
Your child’s mental health and relationships
Playing your children with their neighbors’ children is not insignificant entertainment – it is an extremely valuable time thanks to which your children strengthen their mental resistance. Relationships in the closest family are also very important for children’s mental health: atmosphere at home, joint activities, showing care, interest and respect.
Talking to each other on various topics, supporting each other. The attitude of parents is invaluable here, who set an example to their children and show how family relationships can look like. What do relationships look like in your family? Do they promote your mental health?
Problem-solving skills & self-confidence
Life for each one of us is challenging, both small and big. The whole art is to be able to face them and not break down under the influence of failures. Taking care of a child’s mental health is, among other things, to support his or her resources for coping with various problems. In addition, to instil faith in the child’s abilities.
How to do that? First of all, by challenging the child to the best of his or her abilities (neither too difficult nor too easy). It is very important to reassure the child that he or she can do it, that he or she is wise and will do a lot in life. If there is a need to help a child, it is worth doing it.
When a child is confronted with a problem, teach him/her how to plan a solution to the problem step by step. If solving the problem on your own is not an option, show your child where he or she can seek support. There may be several suggestions, e.g. from your teacher, from you, maybe from your peer? Or maybe the solution should be found in some book/Internet?
Dealing with emotional suffering
Even if we are able to cope with different challenges, we cannot avoid difficult experiences such as: loss, rejection, loss, parting. They are simply inscribed in our existence and everyone will sooner or later experience them. Experiencing situations such as failure or loss always involves experiencing various difficult feelings: fear, anger, bitterness, regret or sadness. It is only a handful of the whole range of possible sensations.
It is not that people who function well on a mental level do not experience unpleasant feelings and various difficult situations. They simply can cope with them and take care of themselves in difficult moments. They take care of their mental hygiene and as a result they come to balance over time.
Take care of your mental health just as you take care of your physical health
Here you can use the analogy of taking care of your own physical health. If something hurts us, e.g. if we strain the shoulder joint during exercise, we usually give the sore place time to regenerate and rest.
We give up exercise for a while, gently stretch the joint, sometimes we use a massage. When the pain does not pass, we go to the doctor. In other words: we take care of the sore place and show care for it. We should behave in a similar way when we experience mental suffering.
One hundred years ago people started to take care of personal hygiene and consequently their life expectancy has increased significantly. It is high time for us as a society to start paying attention also to taking care of our mental health – how much can the quality of our life and that of future generations change if we start to do it today?