Mental health plays an important role in child development and is a significant part of overall health. According to national statistics shared by the National Alliance for Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (46.6 million) experiences mental illness in a given year. Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14; three-quarters by age 24. This means that to successfully treat mental health conditions and prevent negative mental health outcomes, we need to look early at our kids’ overall emotional well-being.
One of the ways parents and other adults interacting with kids can promote emotional well-being is by creating environments and fostering experiences that help kids build emotional regulation and resilience skills. Experiential learning occurs when handling challenging situations. Kids coached through these challenging situations can build skills that may help to prevent depression, anxiety and other emotional problems, and just as importantly, may help them overcome problems if/when they do arise.
Throughout May, Bergen’s Promise will be celebrating Mental Health month with a variety of blogs covering many aspects of mental emotional well-being.
We all want to give kids the skills to manage the intense emotions and stressful situations that are an inevitable part of daily life. Emotional regulation is the ability to manage our emotions and behavior and direct our behavior towards achieving a more positive outcome. It is a life skill for all ages.
Resilience is the ability to adapt when faced with difficulty, trauma, or tragedy, so we can navigate these stressful situations. When kids have the skills and the confidence to confront and work through their problems, they learn that they have what it takes to confront difficult issues.
Parents and/or caring adults can help kids build resilience and confront uncertainty by teaching them to solve problems independently. While our instinct might be to jump in and help so that our/a child avoids dealing with discomfort, this actually weakens their resilience and ability to regulate their emotions. Experiencing discomfort presents an opportunity for us to learn and develop problem solving skills that we can use to proactively work through the challenge.
Check back on Thursday for some practical tips to help you build resilience and strengthen emotional regulation skills in yourself and the kids in your life!