The Shine Project

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Shine’s tips for parents and carers in supporting better teen/pre-teen mental health

Anne ClarksonComment

A strong relationship with you, which offers love and support, is key in having a positive impact on your child’s mental health.  Some steps are ‘obvious’, but with our busy modern lives, quality time and healthy routines can quickly get swallowed up by other demands.

It’s good to occasionally remind ourselves about ways to show our children that we’re genuinely interested in what’s happening in their life. Praising their efforts as well as their good points and achievements and valuing their ideas. 

Here are some top tips:

TIME TOGETHER

·      Spending quality ‘one on one’ and family time with your child/children. A specific ‘you & me’ time activity, such as going for an ice-cream or even a walk around the block together is great, especially when done with a ‘phone free’ agreement. 

·      Encouraging your child to talk about feelings is also important.  Help them see that they have to go through things alone and that you can work together to find solutions to problems. Just making time to deliberately open a dialogue about this it a good step!

·      Try to deal with problems as they appear, rather than letting them mount up.

·      ‘Laughter is the best medicine’ – try playing a silly game, watching a funny cartoon or anything that gets you giggling.  It reduces tension and releases chemicals in the body, important for happiness!

·      Talk to trusted family members, friends, other parents or teachers if you have any concerns. If you feel you need more help, speak to your GP or another health professional.

Physical health and mental health are closely linked.  Try encouraging your child to do the following (and yourself too):

Keep active & fit! 

This not only benefits the body, but children usually find their energy, as well as feelings of confidence, increases and it’s a great outlet for stress. Try dusting off an old Wii fit or active game consols, rather than opting for ‘chilling’ in front of the TV, or try Youtube for a spot of yoga or exercise after school.   Walking a dog, skipping, dancing, anything really, as long as it’s movement.

·      Develop and maintain healthy eating habits and where possible eat together at a table (without phones).  Sharing food can be a really bonding experience and good chance to chat about the day.  Good food is so important!  A simple change could be preparing healthy after school snacks. 

·      Get lots of regular sleep. Earlier bedtimes and lots of sleep really can help your child manage a busy schedule, stress and responsibilities much better.

A good idea could be to involve the child in making plans for positive change - ‘I’d love us to spend a bit more ‘us’ time together and do something active – what ideas have you got?  

You never know – they might surprise you!