Children deserve to grow up happy, loved, and supported no matter their environment. According to an article on child development, various factors contribute to children’s happiness and wellbeing. Beyond economic stability and educational access, it’s important that children have strong and healthy relationships with their families. Children with supportive family members perform well academically and socially, while also reporting higher levels of overall life satisfaction.
The journey towards improving your child’s happiness and quality of life can start with transforming habits and behaviors at home. These may be small changes, but they ultimately make a significant difference in how children think and feel about themselves and the world around them.
Make time to communicate
Despite the busyness of daily life, it helps to communicate with your children. Whether it’s about motivating them at the start of the day or asking them how their day at school went, talking to your children sends them a message that you value their needs, feelings, and experiences. Furthermore, a study about parent-child communication published in Frontiers Psychology emphasizes the quality, and not just the frequency, of conversations. This contributes to the child’s positive self-concept, self-esteem, and confidence.
The quality of the conversations can be improved by ensuring your child isn’t always relegated to being the listener or receiver of information. Allow your child to take the lead in the conversation while encouraging them through nonverbal affirmations like nodding your head and maintaining eye contact.
Seek professional help
There are instances where a child may develop signs of poor mental health, such as withdrawal from social interactions or disruptions in their sleeping patterns. While it’s still our responsibility as parents to address potential or existing stressors, seeking professional help from licensed health professionals allows us to access more tools and resources related to mental health. Despite the shortage of mental health professionals across the country, you can find excellent online therapists to help. Everyday Health has an extensive list of providers, as well as Forbes lists online therapy providers that either charge per session or per weekly/monthly subscription. Most of the services allow you to choose a therapist that best matches your child’s situation.
With the advent of telemedicine, there are now remote nurse practitioners who can also address specific health needs. Remote mental health nurse practitioners across states are making up for the shortfall to provide all-around care and support starting from initial consultations to follow-up visits and medication plans. Their focus on child and family health can help alleviate common barriers like the availability and affordability of care. These remote services mainly benefit children who are more comfortable receiving counseling in the comfort of their own homes or children whose health conditions or special needs make it difficult to access care services at fixed facilities.
Minimize screen time
Regardless of your child’s age, it’s vital to set reasonable limits for their screen time and use of social media. As much as the increasingly digital world allows them to expand their knowledge and communicate with others despite the distance, nothing beats the organic experience of unstructured and unplugged playtime. Included in our list of ways to mitigate parents’ and children’s stress was scheduling two to four hours of downtime each day. This can come in the form of going for a short walk outside, biking to the park, doing puzzles, singing, and dancing. Not only do these activities let them relax and get in touch with the world around them, but your emotional bond and connection also improve when you make sure you play together!
Have regular family meals
This last change may seem the simplest of all, but parents sometimes overlook the importance of having regular family meals. No matter how busy your respective schedules get, an article on The Hill says family meals are a great way to reduce stress, strengthen connections, and boost the self-esteem of your children. When you mainly serve healthy and hearty dishes for mealtime, your children can find stability and consistency in their eating habits. You can further elevate this bonding experience by preparing the food together, especially on weekends or special occasions.
Overall, quality time together with fun and supportive conversations will support your child’s happiness now and for their lifetime. To help your child communicate emotions they may have difficultly talking about, you can also write your Imagine stories together. It’s fun, easy, and free. Download a journal today at www.theimagineproject.org.
The Imagine Project Team
Article written by Renee Jessa (Submitted to The Imagine Project)