Raising Mentally Healthy Kids

December 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Health Blog, Stress

One in Seven Children Experience Mental Health Issues. Here’s How You Can Support Your Kids

According to Michael Grose (Sunday Mail, 10.10.10:22):

“A significant number of Australian children experience mental health difficulties. According to the Australian Psychological Society, one in seven Australian children experience some type of mental health issue, with ADHD, anxiety and depression being the most common types. That places mental health high on the agenda for parents, teachers and professionals who care for kids. Some kids cope naturally with life’s difficulties, such as playground problems, disappointments and social knockbacks, while others are flummoxed by seemingly small setbacks. They may be shy or fearful in new social situations, they don’t react well to playground conflict, or they become overly nervous or anxious when facing tests or new learning situations at school. Having good mental health doesn’t mean that kids don’t experience difficulties or worries. Feeling worried, sad or fearful is normal. Kids who are mentally healthy are equipped to handle many of life’s curve balls that come their way. They also don’t let their emotions overwhelm them. As a result, they usually learn better and have more friends. KidsMatter Primary, a new program recently trialled in just over 100 Australian schools, shows the value of attending to student mental health and wellbeing. According to KidsMatter spokeswoman Karen Coghlan, one in three students who were originally at risk of or experiencing mental health issues no longer did so at the end of the program, resulting in better learning results.

The program promotes good mental health habits in students, and also supports students with problems around mental health. This week is mental health week, so it’s a good time to reflect on the mental health habits you are promoting in your kids”.


According to Michael Grose, the following ideas may help enrich your child’s mental health and assist them when they have problems with their emotions, thinking or behaviour:

1. Listen to children’s concerns.
If your child has a problem, let them know that their concerns are important to you. Kids often can’t tell you what’s wrong, so be observant and gently ask questions to help you get a clearer picture of how they may be feeling.

2. Provide a secure environment
Many things change in children’s lives that can lead to stress and feelings of lack of control. Some change is normal, such as moving from one school to the next, and some of it is unexpected, such as a good friend moving away. In times of change, maintain a sense of stability by keeping to regular mealtime and bedtime routines.

3. Reassure kids
Some kids catastrophise when things go wrong and immediately think the worst. Help them to adjust their thinking by challenging incorrect assumptions and letting them know that things will get better. Also, reassure them that you are there to care for them.

4. Build coping strategies
Humour, asking for help, goal-setting and looking on the bright side are just some of the skills you can teach kids to use when they experience difficult situations. It’s also important to let kids know that they don’t have to be strong all the time.

5. Talk to school staff
Make your children’s teachers aware of any emotional challenges your children may be facing. Not only is this reassuring for kids, but a joint approach is far more effective when kids experience worries, fears or other emotional difficulties.

6. Build down time
Families who are always on the go can make for stressful environments for some kids. Make sure you have some down time when kids can relax. it also helps if you have an open communication style where kids feel comfortable talking about a range of issues and problems that may be confronting them.

Attending to children’s emotional lives is an important part of modern parenting. Helping kids manage their emotions, as well as handling some of the social problems that confront them, are skills that stay with them for life.

For more information about KidsMatter visit www.kidsmatter.edu.au

Yours In Great Health,

Sar Rooney BHSc., ND., DC., DASc., GDSc. (Hons), MATMS, MNHAA, MHATO

Naturopathic Medicine Practitioner, Lecturer, Researcher 

Earth Medicine TM

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Sar Rooney is a Naturopathic Medicine Practitioner specialising in Anxiety and Depression |Women’s Health| Hormonal Imbalances | Thyroid Disorders | Digestive Health | Genetic Polymorphisms (MTHFR/Pyroluria) | Nutritional Medicine | Optimal Wellness & Disease Prevention 

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Reference: Michael Grose, Sunday Mail, 10.10.10:22

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