As parents, we teach our kids many life skills, including how to get and keep a job, manage money and make friends. Maintaining your mental health is a crucial life skill. When you pay attention to how you manage your emotions, it will improve your quality of life and improve your interpersonal relationships. When you’re a parent, you have the unique opportunity to teach your children about mental health. Here are some simple ways to illustrate the importance of mental wellness and exercises your kids can practice on their own.
Mindfulness meditation has become extremely popular. You can start teaching kids the importance of staying in the moment from a young age. With little kids, you can show them how to take three deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. That can help them when they’re angry, sad, or anxious. Some kids struggle with being able to manage their emotions. They might have outbursts and not know how to get back to a place of calm. Breathing is something that we can always do to come back to the moment. Show your young child how to breathe and feel their feet on the ground. Mindfulness can also come in the form of observation. You can take children of all ages on walks through nature and have them quietly observe what they see. Take a moment to let them process what they see and have them say it aloud. Staying in the moment improves the mental health of young people.
Children naturally feel for others. But, you can enhance that natural ability by modeling empathetic behavior. When your child is upset, tell them how you understand how they feel, and you’re sorry they’re angry, sad, upset, or frustrated. You don’t have to fix their struggle, but instead, let them know that you care about their feelings. Empathizing with them will show them that they’re not alone. When you model this behavior, it normalizes empathy. They will learn to demonstrate empathetic actions toward their friends, family, or even strangers. When your child acts in an empathetic way, acknowledge it. Before you know it, they’ll be comforting you when you’re crying or upset.
Teach “I” messages
Part of understanding empathy is being able to express your feelings. You can show your kids how to speak using I messages. For example, “I feel sad when you ignore my words.” That shows how they feel without blaming the other person. When they have an understanding of their feelings, they can better empathize with others. You can role-play situations where they’re upset with their friends and have them act out how they might use an I message. You can also mediate conflict between your child and their sibling or friend. Show them how to use I messages. That’s the start of empathizing with others.
Talk to your child about therapy.
If you see a therapist where you talk about your feelings, it’s okay to disclose that to your child. It normalizes the idea of taking care of your mental health. It shows that if they go on to see a counselor, later on, it’s okay. Whether you see a therapist in person or online, you can talk about your experience with your child. It’s a positive example you’re setting for them. Online therapy is also an excellent place where you can discuss parenting challenges. You can try using a company like BetterHelp.
You can learn more about the company on their social media profiles, including Twitter: https://twitter.com/betterhelp?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor. Parenting is challenging. It’s okay to seek help with an online therapist. You can discuss any struggles you’re having, and you have a dedicated mental health professional to whom you can vent about your problems without judgement. Consider online therapy to better your mental health.