Raising mentally and physically healthy children is a significant part of being parents. Unfortunately, according to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC), around one in five children in the U.S is diagnosed with a mental health condition every single year. Luckily, there are holistic tactics to improve the mental health of children. Read on to learn more about helping your child with their mental health from the pediatricians here at Sunlife Pediatric Network.

A Healthy Diet For A Healthy Mind

A nutritious, well-rounded diet is essential to a young brain’s healthy development. Try not to give your kids large amounts of sugar and caffeine; rather, focus on offering them fresh vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and low-fat dairy. Remember that kids pick up habits from those around them, so try and model good habits yourself by not smoking around your child and limiting alcohol intake. Turning mealtimes into family bonding activity not only encourages social interaction but also a good diet, which are both key to good mental health. 

Developing Regular Sleep Habits

Sleep is just as essential for mental health as it is for physical health. Recurring sleep deprivation can unfortunately put anybody at any age at risk for mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. Children are no exception. In order to create good sleeping habits in your kids, try and establish bedtime rituals early on in life in order for children to wind down and get the deep, restful sleep they need to grow. Teens require even more sleep than younger children.

Get Up And Move

Regular exercise offers a whole host of mental and physical benefits, as it naturally triggers the release of “happy hormones” in the brain, like serotonin. There are also many anti-anxiety effects that endorphins offer, such as endorphins and serotonin. Endorphins have a range of benefits that fight anxiety, and serotonin is key in mood regulation. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (which helps serotonin stay in the body for longer periods) are used in antidepressants; serotonin levels are key to stable moods. To ensure that your children are able to reap the full mental health benefits of exercise, you should limit total screen time; including phone, computer, video games, and computer. Try and get your children signed up for sports they enjoy, or make outdoor activities like biking and family walks a regular family activity. Exercise can also be a great way for children with ADHD to let out their bursts of energy.

Discuss (or Write) About Feelings Without Judgement

Having an open dialogue with your children is central to their mental health. Try and listen to your children’s problems and do your best to make sure they’re not feeling judged and really feel heard. Try and collaborate with your children to work through solutions to problems they’re having with their relationships and at school. If your child is reluctant to speak to you, give them a journal to write out their frustrations and feelings. This can help them process their emotions, even if they don’t want to discuss them openly. 

Contact Us Today

If your child displays signs of mental illness, you should speak with a pediatric mental health professional as well as your child’s doctor. Call Sunlife Pediatric Network to schedule an appointment today.