It is easy for parents to identify children’s physical needs such as good food, plenty of sleep, exercise, and safety. However, children’s emotional needs may not seem as obvious and are more difficult to detect.  

Good mental health allows your child to make friends, develop self-esteem, feel confident, competent and take on new challenges as he/she matures. The following are some tips that can help you support your child’s mental health. 

  • Communicate.  Spend time every day listening and talking to your child about what is happening in their lives.  Share emotions and feelings with your child.
  • Nurture children’s confidence and self-esteem.  Praise and encourage your children, and set realistic goals that test their abilities. Accept mistakes and failures as a part of life and help them develop resiliency to want to try again.
  • Encourage children to play. Playtime is important to children’s emotional development. Play helps children be creative, develop problem-solving skills and self-control, and learn how to get along with others.
  • Provide a safe and secure environment. Fear can be very real for a child.  When they are frightened try to find out why. Respond by listening and being patient and reassuring, not critical.

Knowing When to Get Help
When your child has an emotional problem sometimes all it takes is a a little reassurance to get him/her back on track. However, sometimes children can develop problems that will not go away and begin to effect day to day living. The following signs can help you determine if you need to get professional help. The first step would be to discuss these signs with your child's doctor, guidance counselor or school psychologist.

  • Decline in school performance
  • Poor grades despite strong efforts
  • Constant worry or anxiety
  • Repeated refusal to go to school or take part in social activities
  • Hyperactivity or fidgeting
  • Continuous or frequent aggression
  • Continuous or frequent rebellion and/or temper tantrums
  • Depression, sadness or irritability