Mental health should not be a concern only in adulthood and old age. Children can also suffer from emotional disorders and are not always able to express what is happening.
That is why it is very important that parents and those close to them pay attention to the warning signs and commit themselves to the promotion of children’s mental health. In this article I’ll teach how to take care of your child’s mental health, you will also understand the importance of this concern and learn about some precautions that can prevent the development of diseases. Keep reading!
The importance of children’s mental health
It is in childhood that individuals develop their mental structure. Adverse situations in this phase of life stimulate the production of cortisol, known as the stress hormone, which disrupts the connections between neurons.
It is clear that no one will go through all childhood without going through negative experiences. When they happen sporadically, these situations should not always be a cause for concern.
It is the successive event of adverse situations that, in the long run, can hinder the development of the brain and even change some important systems. Among them, the neuroendocrine, responsible for the production of hormones, and the limbic, responsible for emotions.
Child mental health is important for a person’s entire life. After all, the first few years serve as a basis for all the acquisitions that the brain will make in the following years. It is also in this period that the first symptoms of disorders appear, which can worsen in adulthood.
How the pandemic affects the mental health of small
Data on children’s mental health are worrying. It is estimated that one in four to five children and adolescents in the world has some type of mental disorder. In relation to Brazil, there is no concrete data, but it is estimated that the incidence of these disorders varies between 7 and 20% of the child population.
The most common causes for these diseases are:
- excess of technology ;
- sexual abuse;
- lack of affection;
- exaggerated demand from the family;
Children do not yet have the emotional capacity to manage these bad experiences, so negative experiences can trigger the development of mental illnesses.
The new coronavirus pandemic has brought even more stress to the little ones. All of them were faced with situations of suffering – not being able to go to school, not meeting friends and relatives, limitation of coming and going, canceled trips, absence of outdoor play and the fear of getting sick or seeing someone dear to them suffer from the disease.
Social isolation forced families to live together daily and to spend even more time together. This has had consequences for those who do not communicate properly. Children who already suffered from some type of disorder worsened with the situation.
Also read: How to discuss mental health with family
How to take care of your child’s mental health
To take care of children’s mental health in this context, some care must be taken by adults. Listening, welcoming and providing a support system are the first steps to prevent problems from getting worse. Check out some tips, belowon how to take care of your child’s mental health!
Allow children to express themselves
First tip on how to take care of your child’s mental health is to allow them express how they feel.
Like adults, little ones also have feelings that need to be conveyed. As they are not always able to express themselves through speech, they can put their emotions out by other means. It is very important that parents allow this expression and, if necessary, talk to their children later about their attitudes.
The space for dialogue must always be open. For this, adults must recognize children’s feelings, be willing to listen to what they have to say and value their emotions whenever they are shared.
Don’t hide what’s going on
Children are perceptive and understand when something is not right in their environment. Hiding events can cause little ones to develop negative feelings, such as guilt and loneliness.
Parents should share family events and those that are external, but directly impact their lives with their children. This conversation must be carried out very carefully, using accessible language. It is also important for parents to answer the child’s questions after the explanation.
Avoid mental overload
If adults suffer from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and the lack of free time, imagine what goes on in the mind of a child who has a day full of activities – as much as they are educational or cultural, they end up becoming obligations.
A busy schedule of appointments can be stressful for little ones. Therefore, parents should be aware that there is always free time on the child’s day, when the child can dedicate himself to the activities he wants and live with the people he loves.
Promote the feeling of family belonging
Another awesome way on our list of how to take care of your child’s mental health is to encourage and promote a sense of family belonging.
The feeling of belonging is fundamental to children’s mental health, as it allows the child to feel safe and develop healthy affective bonds with parents, friends and other people with whom they live.
For this, parents should invest in quality time with the little ones, when they can play, talk, read or take a walk.
Watch for signs that something is not right
Many children have difficulty expressing what they are feeling or are still unable to understand what is happening. Parents and other close adults need to be on the lookout for some warning signs, which indicate that something may be wrong with the child’s mental health.
When these symptoms are identified, it is best to seek professional help. Some signs that may indicate emotional disorders in children are:
- drop in school performance;
- changes in sleep and appetite patterns ;
- sadness ;
- exaggerated shyness;
- nervousness without apparent cause;
- frequent nightmares;
- unwillingness to go to school or perform activities that were once pleasurable
I hope this article has helped you understand how to take care of your child’s mental health. It’s not hard as you may think. You just need to take the initiative and ensure your child’s emotional needs are well taken care of.
Also read: How to help a child with school anxiety