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Top 6 ways to help your child sail through mental health challenges

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Depression and anxiety are no more the ailments that trouble adults. Nowadays, mental health challenges like these are common to kids as well. Here's how you can help them as parents.

Written by Paras Hemrajani |Published : November 21, 2019 7:28 PM IST

You are the uber cool parent of the millennial. You take your little for regular health check-ups, you know how to sneak in vegetables in his favourite dishes, you 've enrolled her in a sports club to keep her fit, you never miss a parent-teacher meet and the list goes on. But do you make a conscious effort to read your child's mind or figure out what's cooking up inside her brain? Well, this is one area that even the most well-read, evolved parents slack on, without knowing they are. But as the time that all you parents buck up and take a closer look at the psychological issues your kids may be suffering from, silently. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) data, 10-20% of children and adolescents experience mental health issues, worldwide. The issues range from depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, psychosis (hallucinations or delusions) and manifestation of suicidal thoughts. Half of these mental health disorders begin in children within the age of 14 to 20, states WHO. So, as a parent, taking charge of your child's mental health is as important as making sure that she is getting the right nutrition.

Build a strong rapport with your child

Effective communication with your child is a must for your little one to open up to you. Maintain a well-balanced friendly approach with her without crossing the line. Make sure that you take time out of your busy schedule every day to have friendly chit chat sessions with her. Also, do some activities together that both of you enjoy doing. This will also help her open up to you. Strong communication with kids is essential for them to be able to share their problems with you.

Listen to what your child wants to tell you

Parenting is much more than telling your child what to do. Sometimes, it is also about listening and understanding what they want to say. If they are facing some issues in school or somewhere else, then talking will help you find the reason behind the problem. Listening to how your child's day was at school or college after he has returned home in the afternoon, is a good way of keeping a check on how he's feeling.

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Watch out for warning signs

There are various signs and signals that your child is undergoing psychological issues. See if there are signs od social withdrawal or frequent mood bouts, unexplained fear, aggressive behavior, sudden decline in academic performance, lack of concentration, desire to self-harm or commit suicide, so on and so forth. Keep your eyes open for these signs.

Create a positive environment at home

Keep adult problems and fights away from you child. Don't include him in your family feuds, no matter what his age is. Even if your child has become an adult by law, it is still advised to avoid discussing family problems in detail in front of him. Family issues can trigger stress and worry in kids. Keep a check on your child's social media activity. Make sure he is exposed to age-appropriate content on the internet.

Teach your child healthy habits

Deficiency of certain nutrients, and inadequate sleep have been linked with mental health problems in children. So, it is always good to inculcate good food habits in your kid and follow a sleep routine every night as a family. Involve her in grocery shopping and cooking as well. It will get her interested in home-cooked food. Pack your college goer a healthy lunch instead of having her hot the college canteen for food.

Help your child develop self esteem

A strong self- esteem is the best weapon a child can have in his fight against mental health challenges like depression and insecurity. Failing to get into the college of his dreams, or not being able to do something that his peers are doing, can take a toll on his self-esteem since kids these days are influenced dangerously by their companions. However, a strong self-esteem will help him steer clear of peer-pressure related and other triggers of depression, and stress. Eating disorders in teens mostly stem from a distorted body image of the self. High self-esteem will be helpful in preventing body image issues too. The best way to promote self esteem in your little one is by praising his work and little achievements. However, don't forget to provide him with constructive criticism too, without being too harsh.

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