This year has been a constant test of adaptability. The future is always uncertain, but 2020 has taken it to a whole new level. And still…we’re doing it. We’re adjusting, learning, and somehow making it all work. So how do we prepare for whatever might be next? More importantly, how do we prepare our kids?
Mental health can be a daunting concept, but it’s crucial in times like these. When the state of the world seems to shift each day, our state of mind can provide stability. One of the most important things we can do to support our kids is giving them tools to foster mental wellbeing. We can help them build a solid foundation from which to engage with an ever-changing world. Below are some simple but effective ways to help kids build strong, healthy mindsets.
- Give them the floor: Normalize sharing your feelings. Let them share their struggles without minimizing or trying to solve them. Give them space to voice their fears and stresses, and be open and honest about the things you don’t know. Admitting you don’t have all the answers may sound scary, but honesty fosters a sense of community and solidarity. Your kids don’t need to think you know everything. They need to know you are in this together.
- Practice gratitude: Make a point to call attention to the good things in your life. Studies show that doing this on a consistent basis increases happiness, strengthens relationships, and helps us deal with adversity more effectively. Cultivating grateful habits can be a wonderful exercise for you and your kids to do together. Help them keep a gratitude journal, write a daily list, or simply sit down at the end of each day and share what you’re all grateful for.
- Keep a consistent routine: This is obviously more difficult now, with school schedules being upended left and right. Whatever your case may be, do your best to keep your kids’ schedule as normal as possible to prevent unnecessary stress.
- Practice goal-setting: Whether daily or weekly, helping your kids come up with some attainable goals will give them a sense of accomplishment when they see them through. You can start small and work up to things that will take more time and effort.
- Meditation and mindfulness: Don’t worry; I’m not suggesting you attempt to have your kids sit quietly for twenty minutes (an impossible feat for most adults). The great thing about meditation and breathing techniques is they don’t have to last long to have a positive impact. Research has shown that even as little as two minutes of quiet, concentrated breathing can reduce stress, increase brain function, and lengthen attention span. From guided meditations to breathing patterns, there is plenty of content available. Give it a try with your kids when you need a reset – and get back to Zoom meetings and virtual school with a calmer, refreshed mind.
- Build resiliency: This is a big one. Adversity and failure are unavoidable parts of life. One of the most powerful things we can do for our kids and their mental health is consistently remind them that their worth will never be compromised by failure. They can try and fail, stumble and fall, and still be worthy of success, joy, and belonging. Encourage them to try new things and celebrate their courage and effort when they do. When they experience a setback, discuss what can be learned, and leave the rest behind. Let them see you make mistakes and take responsibility for them. Whatever steps you take to normalize falling down, getting back up, and trying again will never be wasted.
- Strengthen your faith: Make time to come together to pray, read a daily word, or discuss your faith. Remind your kids that there is a powerful God that knows and cares about them, and there are no problems too big for Him to handle.