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 their child’s positive mental health development as part of National Children’s Mental Health Day, which is being observed nationwide on May 10, 2018.

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 #6: Provide security. Stress, moves, and change can be disruptive to family life and individuals. Routines, traditions, and time together can help limit the effects stress has on your child and your family. Children who take on responsibilities because the adults in their lives are stressed may hide their feelings or vulnerabilities. Let your child know that support is always available and you will always take care of him or her.

Tip#7: Build strength. Offer positive feedback and encouragement for your child. Express your confidence in their abilities to manage different situations. Appreciate and acknowledge any help and support they give to you and to others in the family or community.

Tip #8: 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.

Children contending with emotional challenges may be withdrawn, over-active, disruptive and challenging to manage behaviorally.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

“This year’s national observance focuses on the importance of an integrated health approach to supporting children, youth, and young adults with serious emotional disturbance who have experienced trauma.,” said Dodd White, president and CEO of ECC. “Society often isolates children with challenges, but we believe every child can achieve and succeed.”

About National Children’s Mental Health Day
Awareness Day 2018: Partnering for Health and Hope Following Trauma is on May 10, 2018. The event is organized by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). For more information, go to https://www.samhsa.gov/children/awareness-day