May is Mental Health Month. Fortunately, mental health and its importance to a person's overall health is getting more attention recently. Good mental health is especially important for kids who might need additional support and access to resources due to their limited reach and knowledge.
Physical and Mental Health Work Together to Make Healthy Kids
In order to be healthy, a child must have the basics of both physical and mental care. While it's often easy for a kid's caretakers to identify and address their physical needs, the same might not be true when it comes to their mental health.
- Physical Needs
Some physical needs that children require include safe shelter, nutritious food, adequate sleep and a healthy living situation. Exercise and regular medical care, including immunizations, is also important.
- Mental Needs
In order to nurture a kid's mental health, there are several key factors that must be in place. These include the following:
The basis of good mental health occurs when a child knows that the love of those important in their lives -- whether that is their parent, grandparent, caretaker, guardian or someone else who is raising them -- is not tied to their accomplishments. Every child makes mistakes and has defeats so these events should be accepted as natural. Children become confident and resilient by being in a home that is founded on unconditional love.
Self Esteem and Confidence
Encouraging a child helps them gain the confidence they need to try their best and enjoy themselves in the process. Praise their accomplishments and help them see that mistakes are natural.
When the adults in a child's life are honest about their own shortcomings, it teaches them that they don't have to be perfect. Even when something doesn't go quite as expected or hoped, a child will see those they love move on past disappointments and defeats.
It's been said that play is the work of children. It's through play that kids learn a great deal about how the world operates. During play, they practice being creative, hone their problem-solving skills and learn how to control themselves.
Playing is also a great way for kids to stay in shape while burning off some of their energy. Whether playing together or with a playmate, such as another child or a parent, staying active is good for a kid's physical and mental health.
Appropriate Discipline and Guidance
Children depend on the adults in their life to correct them when they are wrong and show them the right way to go about things. It's important to remember that the correction and guidance should be age-appropriate and take the individual kid's needs into consideration.
Realistic expectations set children up for success. A kid's successful mental and physical development depends on the encouragement and love of those in their lives.
Children look to those who are important to them to determine how to act. It's important for the adults in a child's life to set a good example. Kids can't learn the right way to discipline and control themselves, for example, if they do not see it in their everyday environment.
Adults don't have to be perfect in order to raise healthy children. When a mistake is made, such as getting mad, it's important for an adult to take responsibility for their actions.