This month marks World Mental Health Day (10 October), shining a spotlight on mental health around the world, to encourage a healthy and open dialogue when it comes to talking about mental health and wellbeing.
Many of these conversations centre around children. Around the world, children are becoming more vulnerable to anxieties and external pressures. The reasons for this are complex of course but social media, increased screen time, academic competition and social pressures, all play their part.
So, what can we do as parents to help support our children’s mental health and well being? Here are our top 5 tips from Garden International School’s Counselling team
It’s important that your child knows that ‘it’s okay not to be okay’.
Feeling ‘down’, anxious or depressed are not signs of weakness and failure. They are normal.
Show compassion and acceptance
Don’t judge or blame your child if they are struggling emotionally or academically. From the earliest age, show them that you believe in them by praising effort, rather than attainment.
In the long term, this boosts confidence and resilience. In addition, it is important to have high expectations for your child, but make sure these expectations are realistic.
Make sure they talk to someone
If your child is struggling with any emotion - big or small - it’s extremely important that they talk to somebody they trust.
If they’d prefer not to talk to you, try not to take it personally! Instead, encourage them to open up to a good friend or another trusted adult.
Check if your child knows which adults they can talk to at school if they are feeling anxious, sad or angry? If they aren’t sure, help them come up with a list.
Get to know the language your child uses in school to express her emotional world.
For example, many early years and primary schools use the ‘Zones of Regulation’ to help children identify different emotions and learn coping strategies for each one.
Whatever language is used at your child’s school, try to use it with them at home too. This can help reinforce the strategies being taught, thus making them more effective.
Talk openly about your own feelings (as far as you feel comfortable) and model healthy strategies for coping with the tricky ones.
For example, “I’m feeling a little bit stressed today. Exercise always helps me feel better when I’m worried about work. Do you want to come for a bike ride with me?”
Your children will learn from watching you manage your emotions, so talking openly about feelings and strategies for coping with them paves the way for them to do the same.
At Garden International School, we believe that children’s wellbeing and mental health is as important as their academic attainment. Our dedicated team of full-time counsellors work closely with our teachers to ensure that every child has a strong support network of trusted adults and plenty of opportunities to talk.
Together with our GIS parents, we work hard to ensure that every child feels safe, supported and able to flourish - socially, emotionally and academically.
Need some ideas for activities at home? Read are our top tips for promoting happy play amongst siblings, from the Early Years experts at Garden International School.
Interested to learn more about GIS? Book your personal tour online at gardenschool.edu.my or call our lovely admissions team at +(603) 6209 6888