Supporting your child’s mental health is as important as good nutrition, sleep, and physical activity. Having good mental health allows your child to think clearly, develop socially, and learn new skills. These tips can help your child develop confidence, self-esteem, and compassion for others.
Apologize when you’re wrong
When you make a mistake, apologize to your child. Saying you’re sorry isn’t enough. Sincere and simple apologies build trust and show respect for your child’s feelings. Admit you were wrong, explain how it affected your child, and show that you’re sorry. For example:
- “I shouldn’t have said your idea was stupid. I know that hurt your feelings and embarrassed you. I’m ashamed I spoke to you that way. I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.”
Avoid explanations that sound like excuses or blame your child. For example:
- “I’m sorry I got mad but you were really getting on my nerves.”
Give your child choices and respect their wishes
When you can, give your child the chance to make their own choices that are meaningful to them and acceptable for you. If your child has a chance to make choices it helps them:
- feel a sense of control
- develop self-esteem
- learn how to solve problems
- take responsibility for their choices
Ask questions that help your child solve problems on their own
It’s tempting to take over and give a solution when you hear that your child has a problem. But this doesn't help your child find solutions on their own. Try asking questions that will help them solve problems. For example:
- “What do you think you can do about this?”
- “If you choose to do this, what do you think might happen?”
Encourage sharing and helping
There are many ways to do this. You can give your child tasks that are appropriate for their age, such as feeding the family pet, getting the mail, or making their bed. Together you and your child can volunteer or help a neighbour. This builds self-confidence and compassion. It also teaches your child that what they do can make a difference in the lives of others.
Read books and stories together
Even if your child can already read, they’ll still love reading with you. Take turns reading out loud with your child. Reading aloud is a way to share something enjoyable and learn about other people. For example, stories can show us how people deal with common issues like making or losing friends, handling conflicts, or dealing with difficult emotions. Talk to your child about what they like to read. Ask your child’s teacher or a librarian to recommend stories on themes that interest you and your child.