What Happens While We're Young Can Be a Deciding Factor In The Quality of Our Mental Health As Adults
As parents, nothing is more important than the health of our children. It is hard enough to ensure they are eating right, acclimating to new experiences and staying out of trouble; but what about their mental health?
We all know the health of our minds is imperative to living a fulfilling life, however what you may not know is how our minds handle the daily stresses in life and the potential to have to deal with mental disorders starts when we are very young. Unfortunately there are a lot of factors that can affect the future of your mental health and you frankly don’t have control of them all, but with the proper knowledge you can at least prepare for the factors you can’t control and take action to ensure what you can control remains in your control.
You are the last line of defense when it comes to your children's health both mentally and physically so knowledge is absolutely key. Below we are going to go over what you can do to ensure your children have the best chance at a future in terms of their mental health.
According to a study done by Aahrus University, kids who grow up in a more green environment have a fifty-five percent less risk of developing mental disorders later in life. This makes sense given the numerous studies that have shown the benefit of nature on the mental health of adult's as well.
The study shows that green environments increase social cohesion and encourages greater physical activity, both of which have a positive correlation with better mental health. While you may not be able to control where you live and the amount of foliage present in your surroundings, you can make sure your kids are introduced to nature on a regular basis. Participating in activities such as gardening and hikes combine exposure to nature and also provide an opportunity to bond as a family.
There are also lots of natural museums that can be visited which gives you a structured activity to do with the little ones, educates them about different aspects of plant and animal life and gives them the opportunity to experience nature first hand. The benefits of getting out in nature are numerous and if you can give your child a 55% chance to not have to suffer through a mental disorder than taking the time to schedule this activity is worth it.
Your Education Level Matters
You may not need to be rich to be healthy but it helps to be educated. Studies performed in October of 2018 by Rutgers University have shown that parents who have educated themselves beyond high-school have a tendency to invest more time in learning about family health care which reduces the likelihood of young ones being subjected to adverse medical conditions.
The more you know, the more tools you have at your disposal to handle problems that will arise from time to time, moreover, you will also take steps that will help you prevent issues from arising in the first place. Also, most post- high school education comes with the requirement of taking classes about health and psychology and those lessons can easily be transferred to how your family functions.
Parents with higher degrees tend to have mentally demanding jobs, this requirement to use your mind at a higher level makes it easier to consume knowledge about a myriad of subjects which includes recent health research that may make a difference in how you eat, your daily activity and how you interact with on another.
Healthy Eating Equals Healthy Minds
Eating healthy and having higher self-esteem go hand in hand. This makes sense since by having the proper nutrients your children will be more likely to excel in sports activities as well as school. If you can remember being in grade school, you probably recall the kids who excelled in sports during recess were the ones that ended up being the most “popular”. While we are certainly not advocating teaching your kids to put any weight into this popularity nonsense, being able to keep up with the rest of the kids will undoubtedly help them feel better about themselves which will naturally give them more confidence later on in life.
One of the most neglected meals in terms of nutrition is lunch, this is especially true during school time which is unfortunate because a nutrient packed lunch is essential to help your little ones concentrate in their afternoon classes. If you are looking for ideas on what to make your kids for lunch, we have plenty ideas for you in this article.
As an added boon, this study performed by BioMed Central has also shown that a healthy diet has also helped children experience fewer emotional and peer problems such as being picked on and having few friends. Although it takes a little self discipline and pre-planning the potential rewards for yourself and your loved ones are more than worth it. As such, If you want a good way for your child to ensure that they are physically and mentally healthy it start with a good diet.
Bullying Hurts More Than Just Feelings
Bullying is an epidemic and it absolutely needs to be stopped, the damage that is caused by parents who are allowing their children to become bullies doesn’t just affect the present but can reverberate out to adulthood as well.
Recent research performed by Lancaster University have shown that being bullied may dramatically increase the risk of experiencing mental health problems and unemployment later in life, this is likely due to damage being caused at such a young age while their minds are still developing. We have yet to come up with an effective system that neutralizes and deters parents who are responsible for raising these aggressors, and there is bound to be at least one if not more of these problem children lurking around the school, so the best option is to teach your kids how to deal with this inevitable dredge on society.
After all bullying isn’t just in child hood, there are bullies in the adult world as well, the only difference is those people have a chance of being sequestered from society via jail time.
One main way to help your kids fight back against bullying is to teach them NOT to be nice but to be respectful. Nice is a french word for stupid/naive and parents who simply tell their kids to be “nice” are leaving them open to be bulldozed by kids who have no interest in being nice to them.
By teaching your kids to be respectful, they understand that human relationships are a two way road and that if someone isn’t meeting you half way, it is time to confront the situation head on. If that does not absolve the matter, than they have the option to leave, however if someone is actively pursuing them, you need to allow them to take steps to protect themselves and establish their right to be treated with respect. Parents who pass on the “nice” philosophy are not doing their children any favors, and may in fact be leaving them defenseless to those who do not share the "nice" philosophy.
Roughhousing Can Build Strength, Both Mentally & Physically
Letting your children get outside and roughhouse (within reason of course) not only helps them physically but a new study has shown that it can also protect them from depression. Depression is a growing concern not just for adults but now for children as young as six years old. Previous studies have shown that it is not enough just to limit screen time, you also need to get your kids to be active as well. Being physically active and putting stress on the body activates neuron growth in the cortex and hippo-campus of the brain which will naturally help with learning in school.
Allowing your child to rough house also gives them the chance to learn emotional intelligence, because it puts them in a position where they need to be aware of the reactions of others and to effectively communicate their emotions as well. This skill is imperative later on in life, because the better you are able to communicate and gauge other peoples emotions the more persuasive you will become, the more persuasive you are the more confidence you will have leading to nothing but positive outcomes.
Finally, it is in our DNA to rough house, we have been doing it since anyone can remember and it is a natural part of life for all children. If you are interested in reading about the research conducted by Lancaster University check it out here.
Naps Aren't Just Good For Babies
This one is interesting because it involves doing LESS activity rather than more. One study done by The University Of Pennsylvania has shown that children who nap 30-60 minutes mid day at least three times a week have more self-control, are less likely to exhibit behavioral problems, and may gain a higher IQ and excel academically.
The need for sleep is a given, and regardless of your age you need adequate rest in order to perform your best in any activity whether it be physical or mental. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation effects up to 20% of children and this has a negative effect on a myriad of functions both physically and mentally, part of the problem is that in the United States it is common practice to stop napping all together after a certain age (usually four-five) and from that point on naps are a thing of the past.
Even though this is the norm, it does not necessarily mean it is healthy, kids and adults benefit from adequate sleep and because children have the double duty of learning new information while at the same time dealing with a body that is constantly growing and developing they are in even more needd of adequate sleep. Pediatricians and children health advocates have been seeking schools to start later, however if naps are introduced, this could easily replace the need for this and provide a huge benefit to over all school performance.
Reading Can Give Your Child A Million Word Head Start
A recent study has shown that children whose parents read them at least five books a day enter kindergarten having heard approximately 1.4 MILLION more words than kids who were never read to. This is a huge advantage that can easily cary on later in life since it puts your little one WAY ahead of the curve. Being able to read and comprehend is essential in all walks of life and the sooner your child learns to do so the better off they will be.
This not only effects learning, but also gives them the power to better communicate with their peers which leads to higher self esteem and a lower chance of experiencing mental disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Furthermore, this is not to be confused with the “conversational” vocabulary which are words picked up by kids when listening to adults conversation, these words aren’t nearly as impactful as when they are absorbed through the act of reading. Moreover, when reading to your kids you are in control over what words they are picking up, which is much more desirable, you never know what habits your kids are picking up through the conversations that they over hear, and the best way to make sure they are developing positive communication habits is to actively work with your kids.
The Next Step:
Now that you have learned the many ways you can help your kids with their mental health, lets look at some of the top 10 activities that healthy families do on a regular basis.