By: Kathryn Jackson
This year, I have been inundated with advice on how to improve my mental health. Some of the advice – like the opinion pieces and articles shared by my therapist – has been extremely helpful. Some of it has not. However, with all that we’ve gone through this year, I believe the renewed focus on mental health is not only a positive change but a necessary one.
For too long, mental health issues have been pushed under the rug. People who have spoken up about mental health struggles have been deemed dramatic, difficult, and even delusional. It’s time for that to change. This year, we’ve been focusing on discussing mental health in our home and creating an environment where our kids feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings. After a year of creating a mental-health “aware” environment, here are my top tips for other parents looking to do the same.
- Be vulnerable with your children.
If we expect our children to share their thoughts and feelings with us, it’s important for us to be willing to normalize sharing our own feeling our emotions. Of course, it’s up to you to decide what is appropriate to share with your children and what isn’t. Depending on age and maturity level, being vulnerable can look much different with each child.
- Share your highs and lows
Each night, we share our high and low of the day around the dinner table. This has opened a nice space for us to hear from our children and gauge how they’re feeling, how they’re friendships are going, and help them understand that we’re there for them.
- Make gratitude a daily practice
When you’re experiencing hard emotions, it can be tough to prioritize gratitude. As I’ve been working on my gratitude practice, I’ve brought my children into it. Every day, I make a point to tell my children one thing that I’m grateful for about each of them. Then, I ask what they’re grateful for that day. It’s been such a refreshing practice for us throughout tough COVID months!
- Don’t label feelings as “bad” or “good”
For me, this has been the hardest tip to put into practice. As moms, of course, we want to help our children remain positive and see the good in the world. However, in the past, there have been moments where I failed to create space for my children to feel sad, disappointed, or even angry. Now, instead of focusing on the feeling, or saying, “cheer up,” I focus on how we deal with and process our emotions.
Even when our children are too young to understand, we can help them learn to prioritize their mental health. Comment to let us know your tips for raising healthy, well-rounded kiddos!