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When I originally wrote this article, it was a couple of years ago and we were in the midst of the pandemic and the stats on kids and their mental health were not getting the media coverage they deserved. Many children and teens are still suffering and world events are not helping the cause. Even if your child or teen is not currently suffering from a mental health concern, these strategies I'm sharing help support mental health and prevent mental health problems.
5 ways to support your child's mental well-being.
1. Get Some Calm Vibes Flowing in Your home
It is no secret that meditation effectively lowers stress and anxiety and has been proven time and time again in thousands of studies worldwide. Rather than waiting till your child seems "off" try to make it a practice a few times per week.
Try Meditation. As you know, I meditate daily and it is how I keep anxiety in check. I use the Calm app for myself and Vienna! They have an awesome "Calm Kids" section with meditations that are only 3-5 minutes long. She loves the Thomas the Train one!
Try Yoga. Cosmic Kids Yoga on Youtube is another great option for younger ones 3-12 years of age with fun and story-themed yoga classes. We do a class 4-5 times per week! They are particularly good when Vienna is cranky or "bored". Jamie, the woman who does the classes is absolutely fantastic!
2. Children need to know they are loved, they are safe and secure
I know I'm Captain Obvious here, but if there's one thing I've learned reading parenting books and subscribing to Dr. Laura Markham's newsletter, children need to feel safe and secure to thrive. How can you provide that environment? It's simple, free and something you can do right now. Give them extra hugs and assurance and let them know they are safe and secure, especially if your child has an anxious personality. As the old saying goes...
3. Support their Gut Health with Fermented Foods
There is much emerging research on the link between gut health and mental health. We now know that gut bacteria play a critical role in our mental well-being and supporting your child's microbiome is key to many factors of their wellness. Serotonin, a key neurotransmitter for mental health and happiness is primarily made in the gut with the help of gut bacteria.
At least once per day, give your child fermented foods. Examples: sauerkraut , kimchi, kombucha (check the sugar content first), miso, tempeh, yogurt , kefir and apple cider vinegar. My daughter loves 1/2 tsp of apple cider vinegar in her water. The earlier you can introduce these foods the better, but it's never too late.
4. Cultivate Togetherness
You might be thinking "no sh%t sherlock", but togetherness does not mean you're all watching TV at the same time or sitting around a table with your nose in a laptop or staring at a computer.
The togetherness I'm talking about is interacting with one another and doing something you all enjoy, together. I've got lots of ideas to cultivate togetherness such as:
5. Check yo'self!
Are you a complete stress-bag of nerves and anxiety?
Children pick up on everything in the home and they are a mirror reflection of you.
If you're not taking care of your own mental health and well-being, how can you expect your child to manage their own emotions when they are feeling stressed or anxious? What are your daily rituals to cultivate happiness and calm vibes in your home? It's never too late to start!
There is no perfect way to parent. So please don't beat yourself up if you have been struggling.
My hope is this post gives you some ideas on ways to support your child's mental health if they are struggling.
Please feel free to share your own ideas in the comments below on how you are cultivating a healthy home for your children to thrive.