WASHINGTON – Learning shapes, numbers and letters, are an important part of preparing a child for school. But supporting positive mental health development is also an important part of school readiness.

Parents must identify, address and balance their child’s emotional and mental health needs alongside their educational requirements and development.

The Episcopal Center for Children offers the following tips for parents to assist and assess their child’s positive mental health development as part of National Children’s Mental Health Day, which is being observed nationwide on May 7, 2015.

Tip #1: Help instill responsibility in your child. Create age-appropriate learning and experiential opportunities that help your child demonstrate responsibility. This can be achieved by assigning chores, providing examples of cause and effect, and establishing routines.

Tip #2: Provide boundaries for your child’s behavior. Set consistent limits and follow through with reasonable consequences.

Tip #3: Listen to your child. Create a safe environment within your family where your child can express thoughts and feelings.

Tip #4: Foster independence in your child. Praise your child’s efforts and encourage positive risk taking and decision-making.

Tip #5: Seek special services early if your child needs them. If your child is excessively distracted, has frequent angry outbursts, or is unable to concentrate in the classroom, she or he may benefit from evaluations for special services. These evaluations may include psycho-educational, speech and language, and occupational therapy assessments. Early intervention can prevent problems from magnifying over time and assist your child in healthy development.

Emotionally troubled children may be withdrawn, over-active, disruptive and challenging to manage behaviorally. They often require additional resources and services to aide them in their educational progress and emotional development.  If your child is emotionally troubled and needs help, contact special education services at your local school or within your local school district.

“Awareness Day is an opportunity for us to join with more than a thousand communities across the country in celebrating the positive impact that we can have on the lives of children, youth and young adults, when we are able to integrate positive mental health into every environment,” said Dodd White, executive director of ECC. “When we focus on building resilience and social-emotional skills in young children from birth, we can help young children, youth, and their families thrive.”

About the Episcopal Center for Children

The Episcopal Center for Children is a private nonprofit, nondenominational day treatment facility for emotionally troubled children and their families from the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.  Accredited by the Joint Commission, the Center offers a day treatment program for children who are 5-12 years old, and focuses on enabling children to return to the public school and the community, while being able to re-engage with their families and build a positive future. More information is available at ECCofDC.org.

About National Children’s Mental Health Day

National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day is May 7, 2015. It seeks to raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health and to show that positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development from birth. More than 1,100 communities across the country are participating this year in celebrating National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day to highlight the importance of positive mental health for children. The event is organized annually by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). More information is available at www.samhsa.gov/children/national-events

Media contact:  Ami Neiberger-Miller, 703.887.4877, [email protected]