Adapted from “Parenting For Your Child’s Mental Well-Being” workshop by Tan Khye Suan, Executive Director of Epworth Community Services
Just like physical health, mental health is important no matter the stage of life. For parents, supporting and walking alongside children as they go through life is crucial.
Here, we provide some insights on factors that can impact a child’s mental well-being, possible signs of mental health issues, and what parents can do to promote better mental well-being in their children.
Factors that can Impact a Child’s Mental Well-Being
CHALLENGES AT HOME
- The communication style matters. What is the volume, tone, choice of words, and body language?
- The discipline method matters. Does the child get punished immediately, are their mistakes dismissed, or are they guided to identify their wrongdoings and consequences of their actions
- Parents’ support and guidance matters. Is the child being listened to, encouraged, and given the opportunity to explore solutions together with his or her parents or is the child coerced into doing things a certain way?
- Marital problems such as frequent quarrels and threats of divorce.
- The presence of financial problems and/or addiction issues.
- Family members with mental health issues.
Disengaged and Unguided Children
- When there is a lack of parental supervision, children tend to turn to other forms of engagement which may result in more serious issues e.g. excessive screen dependent activities which could lead to addiction issues.
CHALLENGES IN SCHOOL
- The pressure to be like others or to fit in.
- Bullying (physical, psychological, emotional or cyber).
- Homework and exam results.
Possible Signs that may Indicate a Child is Facing Mental Health Issues
- Withdrawing from or avoiding social interaction.
- Talking about hurting oneself.
- Drastic changes in mood, behaviour or personality.
- Health issues such as weight loss, insomnia, frequent headaches or stomach aches.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Change in academic performance.
What Parents can do to Promote Better Mental Well-Being in their Child
SPEND AMPLE QUALITY TIME TOGETHER
- Engage in activities together; whether it is going to the park or doing something that the child enjoys.
BE THERE FOR THE CHILD
- Be open-minded; listen and understand from the child’s point of view while sharing their viewpoint or advice gently.
- Work with the child to support his or her struggles.
- Focus on the child’s strengths and abilities and praise them where they deserve.
INCORPORATE HEALTHY DAILY HABITS
- Set a structure and routine for the child to follow.
- Make sure that the child has sufficient rest and sleep.
- Reduce screen-dependent activities.
- Adopt stress management techniques to help both parent and child.
Parenting is a life-long journey and parents must keep in mind that they have to be the example that their child can follow. Remember, there is no such thing as a perfect parent – only better parents!