Now more than ever, the mental health and well-being of your child is crucial to his or her growth and success as the fall semester continues in full swing. From the excitement and fear that comes with such a tumultuous year to the confusion of struggling to adapt to new home and learning environments, it’s necessary for your family to support your child as he or she navigates the new terrain of distance learning (or face-to-face with new restrictions and guidelines).
The key to fostering an optimal environment for learning, in the home and beyond, is to instill in your child the knowledge that he or she will always have your family there as unwavering foundation of support. To do this, keep repetition and positive enforcement in mind, especially for younger children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “1 in 6 U.S. children aged 2–8 years (17.4%) had a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder.” Always remember that, above all, the mental health and well-being of your child is most important during this transitional time, both in school and world at large.
Maintaining your child’s mental health and well-being is a big task for any parent, but it doesn’t have to be scary. There are simple steps you can take every day that will be a positive influence on your child as he or she continues to navigate the new spaces and environments we find ourselves in.
1. First, make sure your own mental health is stable and that you’ve developed and are comfortable with your own methods of coping and being well before you attempt to apply the same practices with your child.
2. Focus on building senses of trust and compassion. Make sure your child understands that you and your family are always right behind him or her, no matter what. This will allow your child to go forth with confidence.
3. Practice repetition and consistency. Children grow and understand things best through repeated exercises and reinforcement. Most children crave routine and structure, so it’s important to build and maintain a home that your child can comfortably view as a safe space.
4. Establish healthy habits. From eating greener foods to enforcing a stricter bed time, your child will benefit from sticking to a fuller, healthier routine. Turn exercise into play time by throwing around a ball or going on a walk together in the park.
5. Encourage the development of self-esteem. You can give your child all the support in the world, but the most effective coping mechanism is self-esteem. Ensure that your child understands his or her worth and the importance of individuality in today’s world.
6. Pray! Nothing heals the soul like a conversation with God.