Growing Strong: Mental Health Promotion for Children and Teens

Growing Strong: Mental Health Promotion for Children and Teens

Mental Health Promotion among teens and kids

Mental Health is a very decisive domain of our lives. It refers to overall cognitive, behavioural, and emotional well-being. Mental health usually reflects how people think, feel, and behave. Any distortions in mental health can affect daily living, relationships, and physical health. Mental health can be affected by conditions such as stress, depression, and anxiety and these conditions can lead to disruption of a person’s routine.

Mental health holds significance at every stage of life, from childhood and Teenage through adulthood and old age. In children, mental health plays a very crucial part in determining the overall well-being of a child. Mental health in children has a compound bilateral relationship with their physical health and it directly affects their potential to flourish in school, work, and social setups. Now the question that arises is how can we promote mental wellbeing among children. Researchers and experts suggest that some basic ways/means can help promote mental well-being in children.

Promoting Mental well-being in Children and Adolescents
1. Good Sleep

Promoting good and sufficient sleep is essential in maintaining good mental health in children. Researchers believe that insufficient sleep in children can affect that growth process. Insufficient sleep in children may also lead to increased irritability and decreased or defective performance in children.

Several studies have proven that children who get sufficient sleep are less likely to experience behavioural and attention problems and have finer learning capacity, better memory, and improved overall physical and mental health. Sleep hours in children vary according to different age groups. For example, children falling in the age group of 1-2 years require 11-14 hours of sleep while children falling in the age group of 6-12 years require 9-12 hours of sleep.

2. Healthy food

Introducing healthy food into the diet of children has proven to have a positive impact on the mental health of children. Some studies prove that the higher the consumption of processed junk food, the higher the risk of developing depression and anxiety disorders. Other studies have proven that poor nutritional quality can contribute to Attention – Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Some studies even say that eating well supports a child’s healthy growth and lowers the risk of suicide later in adulthood. If a child has already been diagnosed with a mental health problem, a healthy diet can help manage the symptoms. Parents should encourage children to eat more fruits and vegetables and avoid feeding them, cold drinks, processed juices, and other ready-made food items like biscuits and chips.

3. Exercise and yoga

Growing evidence has been found that yoga has mental health benefits in children. Yoga and mindfulness tend to improve focus, memory, self-esteem, academic performance, and classroom behaviour. They also tend to reduce anxiety and stress in children. It has also been proven that the core symptoms of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can be managed in children by practising yoga. School performance in children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can also be boosted by introducing yoga in children. Doing a vigorous exercise like cardio, for one hour per day, for 5-6 days a week can also help improve mental processes in children.

4. Hobbies, Reading, Music

Introducing new hobbies to children or encouraging children to practice activities of their choice like singing, painting, dancing, etc. Promote brain development in children. Practising hobbies boost self-esteem in children. Research shows that children who practice hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress, low mood, and depression.

Parents can also read out stories to children to promote brain development and when the child grows up parents can ask children to read stories themselves. This helps to boost self-esteem and confidence in children. Listening to music helps to stimulate the right side of the brain both in children and adults. Listening to music helps children calm down and relax.

5. Learning new skills or Enhance skills

Encouraging children to learn new skills like learning new languages or learning to play new musical instruments enhances brain development in children. Not just learning new skills but enhancing pre-existing skills has also proven to have a positive impact on the mental health of children. These activities stimulate different areas of the brain and the stimulation of different brain areas, in turn, helps in maintaining the mental well-being of children.

6. Strengths and Weaknesses

Apart from these basic ways/ means, there are some other things that parents need to keep in mind to ensure the mental well-being of their children. Parents should try to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their children. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of a child helps parents to better understand the functioning of a child.

After recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of a child, it would be easier for parents to mould the child accordingly. Parents should promote and enhance the strengths of a child rather than criticizing or torturing the child on his/ her weaknesses. Recognizing the child’s strengths can help the child thrive better. Criticizing or torturing the child on his/ her weaknesses negatively impacts a child’s mental health.

Children should be appreciated for their strengths. This increases confidence and motivation to do better in a child. Taunts or criticisms of the weaknesses of a child must be avoided at all costs. Encouraging children plays a key role in the mental well-being of a child.

7. Socialisation

Fostering healthy relationships with children plays a vital role in the healthy development of children. A mentally healthy child requires several healthy relations apart from a healthy relationship with his/her parents. These relations include relations with other family members, such as grandparents, cousins, siblings as well as friends and neighbours.

Even if parents love to spend time alone with their children, they should also allow them to socialize and connect with other people. Parents should also teach children to help people in need and be generous towards others. These relationships and connections can make a huge difference in the world of a child’s mental health.

The “Don’ts” in Ensuring the Mental Well-Being of Children

After having discussed what are the things that one must do to ensure the mental well-being of children, there are several “don’ts” to the list as well. Some of them include:

1. Excessive use of Social media/ Excessive Watching TV

Excessive screen time in children and adolescents should be avoided. Parents or caretakers should strictly monitor the screen time of children. There are several guidelines on how much screen time can be given to a child or an adolescent: children less than the age of five years should not be allowed to have screen- time of half an hour to one hour a day.

Similarly, children within the age group of 6- 12 years should not be allowed to have screen- time of more than 1- 2 hours a day and children within the age group of 13- 18 years should not be allowed to have a screen- time of more than 3 – 4 hours a day. According to research excessive screen time can lead to the deterioration of the social skills of a child. Frustration tolerance can also decrease due to excessive screen- time. Children having excessive screen- time tend to develop mood dis – regulations in later stages of life. Such children have lower emotional regulation capacities.

2. Reading too much about negative events/spending time with people who talk about negative things

Reading or discussing too much about negative events can have negative consequences on the mental health of children. Parents or caregivers should always keep an eye on the reading material or the news that young children are exposed to. They should always avoid discussing negative events in the presence of young children.

Exposing children to too much negativity can have a bad effect on their mental health as well as their personality. Also, parents or caregivers should always monitor the connections of their children. Being in the company of pessimistic people can also have adverse effects on the mental health and personality of children.

3. Tell People politely about their negative behaviours

Suffering or bearing the negative behaviours of others can also negatively impact the mental health of children. One must teach children to convey to others if they feel negativity in the behaviours of other people. These people could be friends, relatives, or anyone. Children should be taught what behaviors of others can negatively impact them and they should also be taught how to deal with such people or such situations.

Children should be given a clear-cut idea of what to do and what not to do while dealing with other people. This way a child feels confident and his/ her self-esteem is boosted. Enhancing self-esteem is very important in improving the mental health of children. It is also important to equip children with ways and techniques of dealing with stressful situations.

3. Dealing with stressful situations

Parents must teach children that as soon as they find themselves caught in a stressful situation, they should immediately try to relax. This could be done by indulging in some activity that the child finds relaxing. Some examples of such activities are drinking water, meditation, yoga, deep breathing, music, dance, etc. Parents should also encourage children to share their feelings with some trusted people. These people could be the child’s parents, friends, or anyone the child is comfortable with and can rely on.


At last, children should always be given hope. Children should always be appreciated for their achievements. Even when a child faces failure, parents or caregivers of the child should never de-motivate the child. Instead, they should encourage the child to try once more and give them hope that they will succeed one day. A de-motivated child can never be mentally healthy. Giving hope sustains the mental health of the child even in the toughest times.

Being harsh on children is never the solution to any problem instead it is the root cause of any problem. So, it is highly advisable that apart from being affectionate and caring to the children, always look out for the mental health of children and never hesitate to discuss mental issues with children.

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