How to talk to your child about their mental health

1 in 5 children in US experience mental health disorder

ORLANDO, Fla. – Each year, one in five children in the US experience a mental health disorder and about $247 billion is spent on treatment and management of these conditions.

Ivanhoe explains how to talk to your child about their emotional health.

Mental health disorders are an epidemic and children are not immune. Studies show nearly 7.7 million children and teens have at least one treatable mental health disorder.

So how can you teach your child to nurture their mental health?

First, encourage emotional intelligence. That’s helping children perceive, express, and regulate their emotions, while understanding the emotions of others. You can help foster this skill by watching a movie together and asking questions.

“How do you think the characters feel in these situations? ‘Naming emotions and then saying, ‘How would you handle the situation? What do you think they did well? What do you think they didn’t do well?’” Megan Campbell, DO at LSU Health Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist at Children’s Hospital said.

Another way to boost emotional health is to help kids recognize signs of stress.

“Let’s think back to how you were feeling before this meltdown occurred. Have you been tired? Are you hungry? How does your body feel in this moment?’” Campbell said.

Also, promote self-care habits. This may include enjoying a soothing activity like drawing, reading a book, or spending time in nature. And talk about your own feelings to use as teaching points.

“I was feeling frustrated in that moment’, or ‘I was feeling upset in that moment, and this is what I’m going to do to help myself feel better. I’m going to take some deep breaths, and I’m going to take a break.’” Campbell said.

With ways to strengthen emotional health in kids.

Campbell says signs of mental health problems in kids vary and depend on the child’s age. Younger children may exhibit more irritability, outbursts, and tantrums, while teens may be withdrawn, aloof, and standoffish.

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