Supporting Children with Mental Health Disorders
The mental health problems children may experience can be reflected as difficulties in psychological and emotional development, social relationships, and behavior. When problems are severe, and cause impaired functioning, they are defined as mental health disorders.
It can be hard for adults to recognize when a child needs support with mental health issues. As well as, it can be difficult for young people to speak out about the challenges they’re facing.
So it’s crucial that anyone who works or volunteers with children is able to recognize the signs that a child may be struggling with their mental health:
- Irritability: Your child is often fussy and moody. They startle easily and cry frequently. You might find it difficult to calm them once they start crying.
- Difficulty sleeping: Your child has difficulty falling asleep, wakes up frequently during the night, or has intense nightmares.
- Having unexplained physical problems such as headaches, stomach aches, or other complaints
- Bedwetting: Your child wets the bed even after they’ve been potty trained.
- Anxious behavior: Your child displays anxious behaviors such as clinging to family members, not being able to tolerate separation from them, being intimidated by new people, and being afraid to leave their home.
- Aggressive behavior: Your child displays frustration, or aggression by hitting, kicking, biting, or throwing frequent tantrums.
- Performing poorly at school and having no interest in school work
Tips to Help Child’s Mental Health
Create a safe, positive home environment
Be aware of your child’s media use, such as the content and the amount of time spent on screens. As well as, be careful about discussing serious family issues—such as finances, marital problems, or illness.
Respect their feelings
Keep communication and conversation flowing by asking questions and listening to your child. Mealtime can be a good time for talking.
Help children and youth develop self-esteem
Encourage your children and praise them when they do well. Recognize their efforts as well as what they achieve.
Create a routine and set clear boundaries at home
Uncertainty about day-to-day schedules can lead to a lot of stress or anxiety in a child’s life. For that you should create a general routine at home can provide some relief and peace for your child, whether it’s a schedule for daily meals or a weekly movie night.
Let them know they are loved and supported
For a child, one of the most important things you can provide is an environment where they know they are loved and important. They know they are supported no matter what they do, and this increases their feelings of security and safety in the home.
Involve them in decision making
Finding ways to include your child in making decisions can help them feel that they are heard and valued in their home. Something as simple as asking them what they prefer to prepare for the dinner, where to put decoration in the home, etc
Seeking professional advice and support for mental illness in children
For more serious mental illnesses, you might be referred to a psychologist. Don’t be afraid to find and ask for help from Dr. Carla—it can be a great benefit to both you and your child.