Mental Health Awareness in our Kids
From school to bed times, families are seeing the effects of stress and anxiety on our children. There are many ways in which parents can help their children to relax, slow down and consciously build the tools that children will need to deal with everyday stress and anxiety. Here are a few tips that will help to relax your child to make them more comfortable with handling everyday stress:
- Talk– an older child may need to open up and discuss what is bothering them- be open- nothing is ever small- be understanding and compassionate- teach your child that there are three steps to overcoming stress-
- Learning the signals (feel uky, bathroom troubles, low energy, sleep troubles, loss of interest);
- Figuring out the sources (death in the family, new school, bullies, bad TV show);
- Learning and practicing solutions (taking care of your body, managing time, talking with someone that you trust, make time for play and out door recreation, teach the values of communication- look, listen and respond).
- Manage your childs schedule – You are the official “Gate Keeper” for your children. Piling on too many extracurricular activities can generate stress for the whole family. Decide as a family what can be done for afterschool and weekend activities. Present options and show your children how to manage their own time- explain the limits.
- Allow for evening ‘Wind-down time”- Everyone needs the time in the evening to relax and get ready for bed- children are even more in need of this time- STOP all exciting activities at least 30mins before bed. NO TV, NO COMPUTER, NO LOAD MUSIC, STOP HOMEWORK..etc. Establish an activity that your children CAN do before bed- bath/shower, reading together or on their own, listen to quiet music, make a routine or rhythm that will work for your family.
- Diet and Nutrition – Approximately 26% of Canadian children ages 2-17 years old are currently overweight or obese. Parents need to understand that eating out, providing instant snacks and supporting ‘on the run meals’ contribute to the adverse health of your children. Yes that happy meal is great- but only on occasion. (Occasion does not mean daily or even weekly) Remember- you are the health expert in your house- a healthy diet for your child can reduce stress levels, increase energy levels and contribute to improved cognitive function.
- Set Limits – All families need a set of “Family Rules” that everyone (yes parents, you too) follows. Example of a set of Family Rules:
Family Dinners at 6pm at the table
Chores are non-negotiable
Bed time/Curfew times
NO swearing (that’s everyone)
Everyone gets to hug Mom and Dad before bed
All electronics need to be on the dining room table by…pm
We are a family – families work together.
- Guide by Example – Remember parents, if you are stressed out, running like a crazy person from thing to thing- yelling at everyone to get them moving, this will affect your children. I too am guilty of being the ‘drill sergeant’ in the mornings- I am ever working on ways to get everyone up and out the door. Take time to evaluate your life- schedule. You are the face that your children look to as the hero- the mentor- the help- the go-to, so get your life in order and your children will follow suit.
Being aware of your children’s stress and anxiety levels will help your family to cope with activities, sports and family obligations. As my husband always says (he is the King of the sports analogies) set your goal posts- if your present life can not fit in them do something about it. A child can handle life if they are taught to do so by example.
We want to help too! If you want to discuss ND support or RMT support for stress management or even reduction of anxiety for any member of your family we would love to see you in the office. Book a Meet The Doc appointments to find out how we can help.
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