Do you feed your kids vegetables? Help them brush their teeth at night? Bring them to regular physicals? Of course you do, because preventative care is the biggest component of physical health. Often parents forget that mental health has a preventative component, too. The more you and your family engage in healthy mental and emotional practices, the better your mental health will be.
Incorporating mental wellness into parenting does not need to be expensive or overwhelming. In fact, you can make just a few tweaks to things you are already doing. Try to incorporate just one this week. As you see the benefits, you will be motivated to include more and more good mental health habits.
1. Read books that address feelings and emotions. From a young age, babies are highly attuned to read others’ emotions. However, they are not born with the vocabulary to identify emotions. Toddlers who can identify and express emotions are less likely to have tantrums. Older children and adolescents need context to understand the wide rage of health emotions. Young adults love to know that others are experiencing the same emotions they are. Here are a few of our favorite picks:
- Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild!: Fox, Mem, Frazee, Marla: 9780152045982: Books (amazon.com)
- Amazon – The Way I Feel: Cain, Janan, Cain, Janan: 9781884734724: Books
- Color Me Happy, Color Me Sad: The Story in Verse on Children’s Emotions Explained in Colors for Kids Ages 3 to 7 Years Old. Teaches Kids to Recognize and Regulate Feelings (Cozy Reading Nook) – Kindle edition by Green, Agnes, Vetrova (Ukraine), Natalia. Children Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.
- Young Readers/Adolescents
- You Matter – Kindle edition by Robinson, Christian, Robinson, Christian. Children Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.
- When Sophie Gets Angry–Really, Really Angry… – Kindle edition by Bang, Bang. Children Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.
- I Was So Mad (Little Critter) (Look-Look): Mercer Mayer: 8601421340991: Books: Amazon.com
- YA readers
- Amazon – Taylor Before and After: Englund, Jennie, Kellogg, Camille: 9781250763327: Books
- Smile: A Graphic Novel: Telgemeier, Raina, Telgemeier, Raina: 9781338740264: Books (amazon.com)
- A Good Kind of Trouble: Ramée, Lisa Moore: 9780062836694: Books (amazon.com)
- Just Watch Me!: Silver, Erin: 9781988761541: Amazon.com: Books
2. Incorporate a mindful moment. We can all use a moment to stop and take a deep breath, right? Breathing is an excellent self-regulation tool that you can easily model for your kids, without even trying: next time they come to you hurt or stressed, get down to their level and take a big, visible, calming breath. Then another. Usually, they will automatically follow your lead. Here are a few tools to make mindfulness more fun for you and your littles!
- Purrble – Calming Toy Companion with Dynamic Heartbeat and Soothing Purr – Interactive Plush Companion for All Ages – Stuffed Animal Doll for Emotion Regulation – Cuddle and Pet Plushies : Toys & Games (amazon.com)
- Coping Skills for Teens Workbook: 60 Helpful Ways to Deal with Stress, Anxiety and Anger: Halloran, Janine, Maranville, Amy: 9781733387170: Books – Amazon and Coping Skills for Kids Workbook: Over 75 Coping Strategies to Help Kids Deal with Stress, Anxiety and Anger: Halloran, Janine: 9781683731221: Books (amazon.com)
- Omi The Elephant Meditation Toy – Learning Toys – Educational Toys – Mindfulness for Kids – Meditation Tools – Social Emotional Learning Toys – Mindful Kids – Calm Down Toy – Emotional Regulation Toys : Toys & Games (amazon.com)
- The 3 Minute Gratitude Journal for Kids: A Journal to Teach Children to Practice Gratitude and Mindfulness: Press, Modern Kid: 9781948209564: Books (amazon.com)
3. Get outdoors! Did you know that getting into nature is so beneficial for mental health that certain governments have sanctioned it as a treatment for anxiety and depression? Scientific studies have shown time in nature to reduce cortisol, blood pressure, heart rate, and even diabetes! Stay tuned for our June newsletter, which will be packed with tips, toys, and activities designed to help you and your family get outside. Until then, here are a few of our favorite free and easy ways to support your mental wellness with the help of mother earth:
- Eat dinner outside
- Walk around your neighborhood after dinner
- Download a star-finder app and view the sky on a dark night
- Google “easy hikes for kids near me” to find some inspiration
At SupportPay, we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month to highlight mental well-being. We want you to know that you can support your child’s mental health as easily as you support their physical health. It’s not second nature yet, but if you incorporate these tips – reading about emotions, taking mindful moments, and getting outdoors – practicing preventative mental health care for you and your children will become as routine as brushing teeth and eating right. Try one of our tips, and let us know how it helped your family.