The importance of looking after your child’s mental health

Maintaining one’s mental health has become increasingly important in recent years, with particular emphasis in looking after the mental wellbeing of young people.

For youths, neglecting one’s mental health can have various negative consequences, from being unmotivated in their studies, to the possibility of self harm. A news report published by Today in July last year states that the suicide incidence rate for youths aged 10-19 years old had increased "from 4.0 per 100,000 persons in 2019 to 5.5 per 100,000 persons in 2020."

It’s therefore clear that more should be done to raise awareness about the importance of mental health, with steps taken to address it. But while the relevant ministries study how to implement changes and provide governmental support, what can we as parents do at home to ensure the mental wellbeing of our children?

Breaking The Silence

Asian societies have traditionally held a stoic attitude against mental health, where issues are downplayed and hidden from the public eye. Thankfully, things are beginning to change, and families are beginning to realise that there are benefits in openly discussing the topic.

The first step in supporting mental wellness is therefore to start broaching the subject with your children at home. Here are a few things you can try.

Understand possible triggers for mental health issues

Anxiety and depression are the most common manifestations of mental health issues, and recognizing their symptoms is particularly important if you want your child to develop as a happy and productive member of society. Is your child eating or sleeping more or less than usual? Are they showing extreme fear of being in school or around people? Why are they restless or have less energy? Are they eating, sleeping and exercising well?

If something warrants your concern, start keeping a record of their behaviour and mood for at least a week. You can jot your notes on your phone or in a notepad somewhere, just in case you need to refer to them at a later date. Pay extra attention to anything that may seem out of the ordinary. When you’re ready, you can move on to the next step: talking to them about it.

Talk about it with your child

It’s time to sit them down for a one-on-one chat. You may need to find an appropriate entrance - they might not be so willing to talk if you interrupt them in the middle of a gaming session or TV show marathon - but try not to procrastinate either.

Eventually, you’ll find yourself alone with your child with the perfect opportunity to talk about what’s happening in their lives. Start by asking how they are, then gradually approach the subject about what you may have found concerning about them lately. The main goal here is for them to open up. Depending on your child’s personality and temperament, you may need both patience and determination, but be sure to be as empathetic as possible once they let you in on their stresses.

From here onwards, it all falls down to you to identify the problem and help them solve it if possible, or support them if it’s something they have to undertake by themselves.

As the source of many children’s stresses come from the expectations heaped upon them by their well-meaning parents, don’t be surprised if you learn that the reason for your child’s dampened mood has something to do with you. That’s why you’ll need to understand if you’re giving them too much undue pressure.

Focus on your child’s actual potential, not your expectations

It is important to recognize your child’s capabilities and desires and not force them into what you think they should aspire to become in life. A mismatch of expectations can strain parent-child relationships and affect your child's self-esteem, leading to further issues in the future.

Besides long-term aspirations, you should also manage expectations towards your child when it comes to their school performance. Be mindful of the fact that a child’s learning improves when they show an interest in different things, and when they view failure as a stepping stone to success.

Create a circle of support around you and your child

Once you have identified the major stressors bothering your child, it’s time to show them your support as they try to overcome them. Maybe it’s doing something extra nice for them once in a while, bringing them out for a nice meal or the occasional family bonding outing, or even helping them to understand their homework.

At the same time, you’ll need to take care of yourself mentally, too. Being a parent is not an easy task, so try not to be too hard on yourself. Thanks to technology and the internet, you’re free to reach out to friends, family or even parenting groups online for guidance and support. And of course, there’s all the other things you can do to relax during your downtime; don’t be afraid to take some time off at the spa, or go for some exercise.

Explore mental health therapies for children

It’s possible that your children might be tackling an issue that no amount of home remedies can solve. If you suspect that a behavioural disorder is at the heart of the issue, there’s no harm in seeking out professional help.

There are several kinds of therapies available for children in this category, from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), to medication. Of course, the appropriate one will depend on your therapist or doctor’s opinion, so do seek their guidance before making a decision.

Mitigate Anxieties with GenieBook

It’s easy to tell ourselves that results don’t matter and that your child should be given free rein in their studies, but we all want our kids to do well all the same. That’s why despite our best intentions, we still place pressure on them to succeed.

One of the ways to keep our mental health in check is to reduce our anxieties, which means being assured that our children are given the best chance at education without stressing them out too much by looking above their shoulders. Fortunately, Geniebook’s range of online learning products - GenieSmart, GenieClass, and GenieAsk - are designed to do just that. With our AI-personalised worksheet generator, live online lessons and real-time teacher-student chat platforms, you can rest assured that we’ll be helping your child learn smarter and do better in their studies.

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