Raising Mentally Strong Children

November 6, 2020

by Mercy Kids President Dr. Joseph Kahn

At a time when more people are struggling with mental health, it’s important to know that kids aren’t immune. Thirteen percent of all youths ages 8 to 15 have a diagnosable mental disorder. About 8% have ADHD, almost 4% have anxiety or mood disorders and nearly 3% suffer from depression. These conditions limit our children’s ability to succeed in school, to thrive emotionally and to live a happy life. The way we, as parents, communicate with children can help them nurture their emotional health in a positive manner.

Proactively ask your child how he is doing. If you notice he is either way up or way down, ask specifically about emotions, “How are you doing emotionally?” It’s important your child sees that you know he has unique and personal emotions, that you care about them, and that he can let you know about them. 

  • Don’t be critical
  • Don’t be negative
  • Don't be judgmental

Intentionally plan time to spend with your child, uninterrupted time devoted to her and her only.  Remember, the greatest gift you can give your child is your time and undivided attention. Plus, it’s less expensive and more meaningful than a Nintendo.

Ask your child routinely what makes him smile or laugh. Ask him what makes him grateful. Continually point out the good in life and the things to be thankful - the good things that make it easier to deal with the bad.

Finally, be sure your child knows she can bring any problems to you. Let her know she can bring hard and challenging issues to you and you can help her make the right choices herself, not to tell her what to do. Remember your child learns behavior by observing yours so if you are open and honest with her, she will be so with you. Laying the groundwork for this communication with your preschooler and school-aged child will make dealing with adolescence that much easier.