How To Take Care Of Your Child’s Mental Health

Being mentally healthy is about reaching the mental and emotional milestones at the right age and the right time. Mentally healthy kids grow to have a positive outlook and are able to tackle challenges, changes and events efficiently. There are major mental disorders like ADHD, anxiety, or depression that can be handled only by professionals. But few other issues bother kids but it often goes unnoticed or is never dealt with. When do we know their mental health is not up to the mark? Sanjana Bafna Ranka, Founder of The Equilibrium helps you find out…

Children:
1. There are more temper tantrums than usual. 
2. Complaints about having stomach aches and headaches. 
3. Disturbed sleep or nightmares. 
4. Struggling with academics. 
5. Shying away from a social gathering. 
6. Crying even for a silly reason 
7. Imaginary fears and anxiety.

Adolescents and teenagers:
1. They lose interest in whatever they were enjoying previously. 
2. Picking up fights with friends and classmates. 
3. Excessive indulgence in sports or physical activities, or have very low energy. 
4. Getting overly addicted to gaming and social media. 
 In extreme cases, 
1. Indulging in self-harm  
2. Smoking or using drugs 
3. Suicide attempts. 
Though there can be various reasons why a child’s mental health could be affected, a few common ones are:
1. Bullying in school. 
2. Kids with parent/parents who are emotionally unstable or unavailable. 
3. Kids with overly strict or overindulgent parents. 
4. Kids who live in unhealthy situations like divorced parents or where there are frequent fights. 
5. Unhealthy diet 
What can we do to avoid mental health issues?
There is in-fact a lot to be done to grow a mentally fit child. Parents, schools, and society have an equal part to play in shaping a child.
Parents:
1. Realize kids are not your trophy. Please don’t push them off-limits to accomplish your passion. Try to embrace them as they are. 
2. Inculcate that it is OK to make mistakes and feel bad for them. It is fine to be angry, sad, jealous, etc. Instead of teaching them to get over them, as a parent, we must guide them in handling the emotions. 
3. Don’t compare your kids with anyone. They don’t decipher the message as “Mom and dad want me to improve like the other child.” Instead, they interpret it as “mom and dad will not love me if I don’t behave the way they proclaim.”  
4. Be available to them when they are emotionally vulnerable. They need to be heard. Assure that you will be by their side in any situation of life. 
5. At the same time, it is necessary to allow them to make mistakes. Don’t jump in and correct them. Nurture them to value life and instil the value of money and hard work. Allow them to plummet and upraise on their own. And prepare them to take full responsibility for their actions. 
Schools:
1. The school must take enough care in developing a child healthy in every way. It would be great if the school has enough moral classes to teach children good values. 
2. Sex-ed is the need of the hour. The school must teach the importance of cherishing their body and at the same time revering the fellow human. It can pave a way for the child to have healthy relationships and help avoid gender-based violence in the future. 
3. Every school should have a counselor with whom the kid could share their problems and shortcomings. 
4. Beyond all this, still, if the kid is unable to cope, there are various ways to support them 
Family counselling: Including parents in counselling can help the family to understand how various events can affect a child in a way we least expect. It also helps parents to understand how to handle them in the right way.
Psychotherapy: counselling the kid using various therapies could help them heal and get past the issues in the right way.
Medications: Sometimes if there was a health issue behind the mental issues, a professional intervention with the right kind of medication could help. Being mentally fit is as exigent as being physically fit and it should never be disregarded in any circumstance.

Text by Sanjana Bafna Ranka, Founder of The Equilibrium.

Published By Femina March 12, 2021, 16:26 IST

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