Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week: What You Need to Know
As parents, we’re the first line of defense for our children’s mental health, but sometimes we don’t recognize the signs that something is wrong. The longer you wait to seek help, the more likely your child will develop long-term issues that may potentially have a lasting impact on their lives. Here are signs and ways to help your child cope with mental health challenges and live the best life possible.
Signs of Children’s Mental Health Problems
Everyone gets distracted from time to time, but if you’re noticing a pattern where your child seems unable to focus for any length of time, it could signify that something’s not right. Whether it’s an inability to focus on homework or books or staying engaged with a parent when talking about certain subjects, it is a sign that something is amiss.
Lack of Interest in What They Used to Enjoy
You may notice your child just isn’t as interested in their favorite sport, music, or activity anymore. They may spend less time hanging out with friends and family and isolate themselves from others. This change could indicate depression or anxiety—or it could be something as simple as boredom with that activity. In either case, it’s important to check in and make sure your child is still happy and healthy.
Sleep is a critical part of childhood development, and it’s not only important for children to get enough sleep but also to establish healthy sleep habits early on. If your child is having trouble sleeping, he or she might have a mental health problem that requires professional treatment.
Ways to Help Your Children Cope with Mental Health Challenges
Reassure Your Child and Let Them Know You Love Them
It can be hard for a parent or caregiver to know how best to help their child struggling with anxiety or depression. But it’s important not to dismiss their feelings just because they are young and, in your eyes, too young to be dealing with issues like that. Take them seriously. Acknowledge their concerns, let them know you care about them and that they aren’t alone in feeling bad sometimes.
Encourage Them to Talk about Their Feelings
Encourage your child to talk about their feelings, no matter how small or insignificant they seem. Don’t get frustrated if they don’t know how; guide them toward exploring that feeling by asking follow-up questions. With persistence, children will begin to recognize feelings and understand them as part of being human.
Awareness and Acceptance Are Key
Acknowledging and accepting the reality of mental challenges is the first step to helping children cope. Depression, anxiety, and other mental challenges can negatively impact one’s self-image and sense of self-worth. It’s important to help children understand that these feelings are valid and that they are not alone in facing them.
If you are concerned about your child’s current mental health, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Center for Family Medicine is here to assist your entire family. Contact us today to set up an appointment.