Responsible Parenting 101: Mental health at different ages explained

ByNiño QuizonFebruary 17, 2023
sad asian boy
It’s without a doubt that mamas and papas love their children so much that this shows through being regularly concerned about them. This can be seen when being worried about their safety, physical health and condition, actions as they get older, and so much more. But one thing sits at the top of the concerns of parents recently and that is the mental health of their kids. An international survey found that a great percentage of parents are “extremely” or “very” worried that their little ones might experience anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues. It may have also become a realization to many mamas and papas because these concerns may show up at any age. That’s why while it’s normal for parents to be concerned, it’s important too to be well-aware of mental health in general. Also, it should be a must for mamas and papas to take actions for the well-being of their kids.

Mental Health Issues in Children

It may be common to hear that mental health issues tend to arise when people, especially the kids, witness or become exposed to different traumatic experiences. But it might be easier for mamas and papas to look after their beans if they know what to expect at every phase of their kids’ lives.
Beans, toddlers, and preschoolers
Looking at the signs: Being in the early years of life means the brain of the beans have not yet fully learned to cope. This is why they may already show emotional outbursts when they get upset quickly or regularly. This is actually normal at their age. But if the show of emotions seem to be at a higher level that they show more distress, aggressiveness, or fear, then it might be possible they have experienced a big change for them or a traumatic experience.
What to do: The best part about still being in the early phase is that these issues or signs can also be resolved easily. But this will only be possible if the mamas and papas are there to harness their resilience. Simply being present, hugging, soothing, calming, and having reassuring actions from parents can go a long way in helping the beans build a stronger mental health.
Grade school level children
Looking at the signs: As the beans grow, everything around them starts to expand too. They will eventually encounter a lot of new good and bad experiences, most often might be from school. And their minds may also begin to foster curiosity from their surroundings.
The kids may already have some pre-school experience but it is during elementary that school becomes a major part of their life and growth. That’s why situations such as changes in teachers, gaining and losing friends, and most notably bullying can affect their mental health and personalities.
As they begin to open their eyes and minds, hearing about different news is also a factor. These may come in the form of personal family news, death of a loved one, or stressful changes around them. Whatever these may be, those cases build questions and curiosity inside them and may translate to anxiety and worries if not taken care of.
What to do: Children at this age start to experience life and spend time outside the family home. That’s why it’s important to avoid being distant at all times. It’s needed to still be aware of the happenings with their world. When stressful situations come, parents must be quick to act by being present, understanding, and protective of their child. In terms of their curiosity on the other hand, it’s normal to be honest in answering children and letting them know the truth to their questions at this age. Mamas and mamas must even attend to any question that’s worrying them, not just those that spark curiosity. In this way, kids will understand and make sense of their thoughts instead of bottling these in their minds.
Looking at the signs: It is common for teenagers to experience pressure, both in school and life, as they start to prepare for their own future. Every teen may have distinct situations and pressures of their own but stressful situations are likely sure to be present in this maturing phase. These may be normal at their age but allowing these to affect their personalities would be a whole different thing.
If grade school level children start to get distant little by little, what more with teenagers getting ready for adulthood? Especially in this generation and environment, technology has become a big thing for them. But it has gone so big, it can bring negative impacts too like addiction in social media, experiencing cyberbullying, and online harassments. Situations like these can bring about stressful and traumatic experiences that may possibly be carried to adulthood when not addressed.
What to do: The only thing to do is to foster communication with the children. But that action takes a lot more work than it seems because with the maturing minds of teenagers, it would involve sensitivity when addressing pressures and situations in their private lives. Mamas and papas should not only talk to their kids but also show understanding and empathy. Emotional outbursts in beans are uncontrollable. For teenagers, these are also normal but having outbursts may mean emotions and thoughts being bottled up. Presence, reassurance, and empathy from parents would help teenagers get through mental battles until they become mature adults that are ready for a little bit more emotional and mental independence.

Never Take Mental Health Lightly

It was discussed and found that parents worry about their kids’ mental health the most among other parental concerns. But that should not stop there. Mental health can be brought into the next phases of life so it is important to remain in a positive state. Especially in this generation, parents today are encouraged by medical experts to make moves and give full attention to their children with their environment, situations, and actions in the digital space. Taking preventive measures and preparations, and correcting actions if necessary, will go a long way for parents in taking care of the mental state of their children.
Addressing major concerns like mental health issues may seem difficult but nothing is really a walk in the park when it comes to parenting. Still, being educated and ready in these situations as a parent would make that aspect of looking after the kids a whole lot easier compared to otherwise.
Chavez. (2023). Children’s mental health tops list of parent worries, survey finds. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2023/01/31/health/mental-health-parenting-survey
Hernando-Malipot. (2022). Parents, guardians urged to protect children’s mental health online. Manila Bulletin. https://mb.com.ph/2022/10/15/parents-guardians-urged-to-protect-childrens-mental-health-online/
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