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Promoting Positive Mental Health

Be a role model

​​​​​Your child will learn by watching and doing what you do. They learn how to look after themselves, build relationships, solve problems, handle emotions (feelings), and care for others by seeing how you respond.

Your emotions affect what you do and say. They affect your child too. For example, anger is a common human emotion. You may feel angry sometimes when your child whines, talks rudely, or doesn’t do what you ask. If you react to anger by yelling, using harsh words, or calling them names, it affects your child. They’ll also learn to do the same when they’re angry.

What you do and say when you’re angry is important to your relationship and to how your child learns to express their anger. When you practice managing your feelings in healthy ways, your child learns these skills too.

Tips to get you started

Take a few deep breaths. This helps you to calm yourself and think about how you will respond, rather than just reacting.

Have a “quiet” area in your home. Create a place where you or your child can go to when you’re upset. While you’re in this quiet place, you may want to try some calming activities. Examples of calming activities include:

  • squeeze a stress ball or play with playdough
  • colour or draw
  • cuddle a pet
  • read a book or listen to soothing music
  • write down how you feel

Help your child learn to solve problems. These steps can help you get started:

  • Define the problem without blaming or shaming.
  • Listen to your child’s point of view and explain yours.
  • Ask your child what they think they could do to solve the problem—if they’re stuck, ask if they’d like some suggestions.
  • Write out the ideas.
  • Together, choose 1 or 2 ideas that you think might work.
  • Help your child plan for success—​for example, set up a homework area or decide upon a bedtime together.
  • Try it out for 1 or 2 weeks, then check back to see if it’s working.
  • If your first plan isn't working, try another solution.

Think about how you talk to your child. When you’re angry, calling your child names (like stupid, bad, or selfish) can lead to:

  • low self-esteem
  • low self-confidence
  • problems at home or at school
  • more illness
  • trouble getting along with friends

Using negative words about your child can also hurt your relationship with your child. Instead, flip the negative to positive. Ask for the positive behaviour you want to see rather than the one you don’t. For example, change “You are so rude.” to “Please speak politely to me.” or “How can you be so selfish?” to “Please share that with your sister.”

Current as of: March 26, 2021

Author: Mental Health Screening & Early Identification, Alberta Health Services