Just because kids don’t bear the same responsibilities as adults, that doesn’t mean that they don’t feel scared or anxious during stressful times. Because May is Mental Health Month, we’ve come up with a list of mental health tips for kids during stressful times. These tips can help both you and your child get through crises and times of uncertainty.
1. Talk Openly About Feelings
One of the biggest mental health tips for kids is keeping the channels of communication open. Always reassure kids that they can come to you with their feelings no matter what is going on. If they have questions or worries, make sure they know you are listening. Recognize that their feelings have value and they will be more likely to keep coming to you to talk about how they’re feeling throughout their life.
2. Follow A Routine
Kids thrive when they are following a routine. When things happen that upend their everyday lives, it can add to the stress and uncertainty they’re already feeling. That’s why one of our top mental health tips for kids is to have them follow a daily routine. Then they need to have scheduled time for studying, playing, snacks, and meals. Finally, stick to your bedtime routine. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the Brush, Book, Bed program to wind things down each night.
3. Keep Things Simple
In times of crisis, it’s important to be open and honest with kids. But you need to do it in a way that they can easily comprehend. Keep the information you share with them about current events simple. The simpler you keep your conversations about the crisis, the fewer reasons your child will have to feel stressed about it.
4. Teach Them Healthy Ways to Manage Stress
Even if you create the ideal environment for your child, they will experience stress from time to time. And as they grow up, they will experience new things to stress about. So when they’re young it’s a good idea to teach them how to deal with their stress in healthy ways. Teach them some strategies for managing stress in the moment to release tension.
5. Limit Their Exposure to News Coverage
Another one of the best mental health tips for kids during a stressful time is to limit their exposure to news and media coverage. When there’s a big crisis in the world, your instinct might be to stay glued to the news to stay informed. However, a constant feed of information can induce anxiety and confuse kids.
6. Make Time for Play
One of the best things you can do for your child’s mental health is to make sure they get time to play. They need time to express their creativity, use their imaginations, and focus on fun things. As long as they are getting all of the necessary tasks done, let them have some free time to have a bit of fun.
7. Get Them Moving
When carving out time for play, make sure some of that time is dedicated to physical activity. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children over six get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Getting outside and active (in safe ways, of course) is one of the most uplifting mental health tips for kids. Anything that gets them moving can help them work off anxious energy and can also boost their mood and help them sleep.
8. Watch Out For Signs of Trouble
One useful way to help your child with mental health is to learn the signs of mental distress. Not every child is the same, so it can be difficult to identify them. However, there are some signs that you should take action:
- Difficulty controlling emotions
- Avoidance of normal activities
- Withdrawing from relationships with friends and family
- Difficulty keeping up with responsibilities
- Erratic behavior or outbursts of anger
- Continuous sad mood
- Changes in eating or weight loss
9. Talk To A professional
The last mental health tip we have for kids is one of the most important. If you see signs your child is struggling with their mental health, you should contact their pediatrician. They can evaluate your child and possibly recommend a specialist that will have even more mental health tips for kids. If you are unable to visit the doctor’s office in person during a crisis, many providers are offering telehealth options to accommodate their patients.
At HealthPark Pediatrics, the health and safety of our staff and patients is our top concern. We are taking steps to ensure that patients are safe visiting our office. This includes using a separate entrance for sick visits, limiting the number of staff and physicians, and offering telemedicine visits. If you have questions or concerns, call (919) 896-706 to talk to a team member about making an appointment.