How can we look after our kids’ mental health?

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The recent World Mental Health Day (10 October) shone a spotlight on mental health around the world, and encouraged healthy dialogue about our mental health and wellbeing.

Many of these conversations centred around children. Around the world, kids are experiencing higher rates of anxiety, depression and other mental issues than ever before. The reasons for this are complex of course – but social media, increased screen time, academic competition and social pressures all play their part.

So, what can we do as parents to help support our children’s mental health and wellbeing? Here are our top 5 tips:

1. It’s important that your child knows that ‘it’s okay not to be okay’

Feeling ‘down’, anxious or depressed are not signs of weakness and failure. They are normal.

2. Show compassion and acceptance

Don’t judge or blame your child if they are struggling emotionally or academically. Believe in them and encourage them as much as you can. It is important to have high expectations for your child, but make sure these expectations are realistic.

3. Make sure they talk to someone

If your child is struggling with any emotion – big or small – it’s extremely important that they talk to somebody they trust. If they’d prefer not to talk to you, try not to take it personally! Instead, encourage them to open up to a good friend or another trusted adult. Check: does your child know which adults they can talk to at school if they are feeling anxious, sad or angry? If they aren’t sure, help them come up with a list.

4. Get to know the language your child uses in school to express his/her emotional world

For example, many early years and primary schools use the ‘Zones of Regulation’ to help children identify different emotions and learn coping strategies for each one. Whatever language is used at your child’s school, try to use it with them at home too. This can help reinforce the strategies being taught, thus making them more effective.

5. Talk openly about your own feelings (as far as you feel comfortable) and model healthy strategies for coping with the tricky ones

For example: “I’m feeling a little bit stressed today. Exercise always helps me feel better when I’m worried about work. Do you want to come for a bike ride with me?” Your children will learn from watching you manage your emotions, so talking openly about feelings and strategies for coping with them paves the way for them to do the same.

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This post is sponsored and written by Garden International School. At Garden International School, we believe that children’s wellbeing and mental health are as important as their academic attainment. Our dedicated team of full-time counselors work closely with our teachers to ensure that every child has a strong support network of trusted adults and plenty of opportunities to talk. Together with our GIS parents, we work hard to ensure that every child feels safe, supported and able to flourish – socially, emotionally and academically.

Interested to learn more about GIS? Get in touch, book a tour or discover more of GIS at gardenschool.edu.my or via feedback@gardenschool.edu.my.

GIS Malaysia

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