How to Look After Your Child’s Mental Health (Even on a Budget)

Mental health isn't something to be ignored. Especially when it is your children's mental health. Here's some ideas from a reader on how to look after your children's mental health.

As a parent, you will have a million and one things on your plate. From getting the kids ready for school every day, going to work, keeping on top of household chores, all the way to finally sitting down with a cup of coffee and doing the weekly budget, you have one of the busiest jobs in the world. So, while it may not initially be welcome news that there is one more thing you need to be thinking about when taking care of your kids, it is something your children will thank you for in the future: looking after their mental health.

Recognizing exceptions needs to be made

Of course, if it turns out that your child or teenager does have a problem that needs to be addressed, here is where you may need to let frugality be less of a priority, and make an exception to care for their wellbeing. For example, if your teen has been using an addictive substance, you need to put them into addiction recovery so that they can get the help they need and move on with their lives positively.

One way to always ensure that the money is there for therapy and treatment just in case they need it is to open up a bank account and just put a little bit in each pay day.

Looking after a child’s mental health can be addressed in many ways, and being proactive in having the necessary conversations and looking for signs is important to find problems quickly.

Looking out for the warning signs

The first thing you can do as a parent is to educate yourself on the potential symptoms of mental illness or struggle so that you can recognize these behaviors in your own kids. Some things to look out for are:

  • Extremes in behavior - becoming unexplainably more aggressive, withdrawn, hyperactive
  • Trouble sleeping/ persistent nightmares
  • Sudden changes in weight
  • Worrying about weight
  • Abuse of a substance
  • Visibly prolonged sadness

A note on age: From looking at the above symptoms, things such as substance abuse and visibly prolonged sadness are more likely to occur in the teenage years, while hyperactivity and nightmares might happen much more for young children. Be conscious that with every year a child gets older, the way their mental health might show itself can change.

Open up the lines of communication

Even if your child is not exhibiting any of these symptoms, it is important that you, as a parent, open up the lines of communication early about mental health. Despite mental illness slowly losing the stigma attached to it, children can still find it incredibly hard to verbalize their feelings (this is something especially difficult for boys).

To proactively help your kids, you need to know how to talk to your child in a constructive way so that they always have you to turn to if they are in trouble:

  • Sit down somewhere private and familiar (a dining room table or the sofa)
  • Let them know that whatever they are feeling is okay and normal
  • Tell your child you will love them no matter what.
If you decide your children need therapy, find a certified mental health counselor such as Meister Counseling, and make an appointment today, don't push it off.
Wishing you and your family lots of health, physically and emotionally!

See my disclaimer.

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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