If you are worried about your child’s mental health or emotional well-being, you are not alone. More than 150 organizations led by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Children’s Hospital Association are sounding the alarm for kid’s mental health.
The good news in this world of worry is that there are things you can do to help:
- Focus on your relationship with your child – be a soothing presence for them to the best of your ability. Notice what’s going right – describe positive behaviors with enthusiasm. Be curious about how your child sees the world, what they are thinking and their dreams about the future. Avoid criticism – it never really helps and can certainly hurt.
- Recognize Behavior – chronic misbehavior, big emotional displays, withdrawal or changes that are noticeable are all reasons to be concerned, not reasons to punish, discipline or lecture. Remember, kids are not giving you a hard time, they are having a hard time.
- Reflect your child’s emotions in a gentle, affirming way – “Looks like you’re kind of worried about that test.” “You seem kind of down right now.” “Maybe you’re feeling upset that your friend hasn’t called?” Look into your child’s eyes (this action decreases stress hormones and increases feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain). Refrain from offering unsolicited advice and listen without judgment.
If you are concerned about your child’s mood or behavior, if you think you are seeing signs of emotional distress in any way, talk to your child’s teacher, school counselor or pediatrician. It isn’t unusual that some kids keep it together during the day at school and show their distress once at home. Trust your gut and keep asking for help until you get it. For more information
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