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Every parent wants happy, healthy kids.

Exercising and eating right can help with your child’s physical health, but what can you do to make sure they are just as fit mentally?

Here are some ways that you, as a parent, can help boost your child’s mental wellbeing:

​Spend time together

Making time for your child will make them feel that they are important to you. Have fun and do activities together like watching a movie or playing ball games that they enjoy.

Be attentive to what they say

Give your child your full attention and listen to them. Ask them about their friends, teachers and the activities they do in school to find out how they are coping. Offer them advice or help where appropriate.

Related: Positive Attention and Your Child

Be generous with praise

Children are often reprimanded for bad behaviour but rarely praised for good behaviour. As a result, they may come to believe that they can never be good enough. Praise your child whenever they have done a good deed no matter how small.

Related: Praise, Encouragement and Rewards

​Avoid labelling

When disciplining your child, avoid using words like lazy, naughty or stupid as they do not tell them what the acceptable behaviour is. Instead, correct your child’s negative behaviour by explaining how inappropriate their action was. Telling them that you love them but do not like their behaviour can make them more mindful of their actions.

​Have realistic expectations

Avoid comparisons and do not make them feel like a failure when they do not do well. This will lower their morale and self-worth, which may in turn make them less eager to learn and less motivated to try their best. Instead, praise them for their efforts and discuss how to improve their performance step by step.

​Teach them to think positively

It is important to teach your child to be positive and optimistic when faced with difficulties. This helps to boost their self-esteem and self-confidence as well as helps them recover from setbacks and failures, and continue to be motivated to work hard.

Focus on their strengths

Help your child explore their strengths. Encourage them to try different activities and hobbies. Explain to them that different people have different strengths and are good at different things, and they should be proud of what they are good at.

Encourage decision making and independence

Entrust your child with manageable tasks to complete by themselves. Praise them when they finish their tasks. If they have trouble, support their efforts and tell them what they can do differently next time.

Encourage your child to build strong and meaningful friendships

Encourage your child to make new friends at school, in the playground or in activities they do after school. Show that you care for their friends by inviting classmates or schoolmates to your house to get to know them better.

Encourage physical activity

Physical health and mental health are strongly correlated. Encourage your child to get enough rest, drink enough water, eat right, exercise regularly and get some sunlight. These are all great ways to boost their energy and their mood.

Related: Physical Activity for Younger Children

Reduce stress levels

Join your child in relaxing and meaningful activities like walking through a garden or park. Visit a museum together or share a hobby like a musical instrument or crafts, writing, reading, listening to music, cooking or whatever interests them.

​Relaxation

Encourage your child do something enjoyable to take their mind off their problems. It may be playing outdoors with friends or listening to music. You can also teach them to relax by getting them to close their eyes and think of happy thoughts – like a day by the beach or playing with good friends.

Be a positive role model

Children and youths learn by watching their parents – even when they are older teens. If your child sees you using appropriate coping skills when you are under stress, they will learn from you. Show them that stress is normal and can be handled in a calm and effective manner, e.g. going for a jog.

​Positive self-talk

Your children can be taught to talk to themselves positively. It can change the way they view the situation and help manage their feelings and behaviour. For example, “Relax! I don't need to get angry about it”, “I am not going to let him bug me” and “I am ok”.

Apart from the tips above, do remember that a healthy and happy child or teenager is able to concentrate well in school and face challenges better later in life. They will also have higher immunity levels and fall sick less often.


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