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5 Ways to Foster Mental Wellness at an Early Age

It is important to help children build a foundation for mental wellness from an early age, and parents play a critical role in this process. Good mental health allows children to think clearly, develop socially, and learn new skills. Additionally, good friends and encouraging words from adults are all vital for helping children develop self-confidence, high self-esteem, and a healthy emotional outlook on life. Here are five ways you can foster mental wellness in your young child.

  1. Hug your child – The simple act of hugging your child helps to build their self-esteem, resilience, and sense of belonging. 
  1. Enjoy the moment – Spend uninterrupted time with your child. Put down your phone and engage in play time. It can be hard to focus when you feel like you have a lot to do, but this time with your child will help you build a special bond that will be important throughout their life. 
  1. Recognize effort – Resilience is a key component of mental wellness. You can help foster this trait in your child by recognizing their efforts and progress. For example, if your child is learning to play an instrument, you can say, “It sounds like this piece is getting easier for you. It’s clear you’ve been working hard.” Recognizing progress and effort helps your child take pride in their accomplishments, which builds self-esteem. 
  1. Model healthy coping skills. Your child will take cues from you, so it’s important to model the behavior that you want to see in your child. This includes modeling healthy coping skills and taking care of yourself. 
  1. Keep communication open and honest. It’s important for your child to know that they can come to you with any issue and that they will be listened to with love and support. Simply letting them know that you are here to listen to them, without judgment, can increase the likelihood that they’ll come to you when they have a problem. 

Keep in mind that children go through changes during development that affect their emotional expression and regulation, so it can be normal to see drastic differences in how your child handles each stage. There may be times when you feel overwhelmed or frustrated trying to handle your child’s behaviors or respond appropriately to their emotions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – St. Luke’s Penn Foundation is here for you.