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What Every Kid Needs For Good Mental Health?

It is very easy for the parents to identify when their child physically needs something: warm clothes whenever it is cold, healthy food, bedtime at an early reasonable hour. However, a kid's emotional and mental needs may not always be as obvious. When children have good mental health, it allows them to learn new skills, develop socially and think clearly. Additionally, encourage words from the adults and good friends are very important for helping the children to develop high self-esteem, self confidence and a healthier emotional outlook on their lives.
Basics For A Kid's Good Physical Health

  • Exercise
  • Nutritious food
  • Adequate sleep and shelter
  • Healthy living environment
  • Immunizations

Basics For A Kid's Good Mental Health

  • High self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Unconditional love and support from family and loved ones
  • Opportunity to play and be social with other children
  • Secure and safe surroundings
  • Supportive caretakers and encouraging teachers
  • Appropriate discipline and guidance

Suggestions On Discipline And Guidance

  • Set a nice example. You cannot just expect self-discipline and self-control from a kid if you are not practicing this behavior.
  • Be firm, but realistic and kind with your expectations. The development of children depends on your encouragement and love.
  • Criticize not the child, but the behavior.
  • Talk about all your feelings.
  • Avoid nagging, bribery and threats.
  • Provide a secure and safe home.
  • Keep in mind, the goal here is not just to control the kid, but for her or him to learn the self-control.

When To Get Help

Family members and parents are the first ones usually who notice if a kid has problems with behavior or emotions. Your observations along with those of caregivers and teachers may lead you for seeking help for the kid. If you suspect any problem or have any questions, you need to contact a good mental health professional or consult your pediatrician immediately.

Warning Signs

Following signs can indicate need for the professional evaluation or assistance:

  • Decline in the school performance
  • Regular anxiety or worry
  • Poor grades despite of the strong efforts
  • Repeated refusal to attend school or to participate in the normal activities for kids
  • Fidgeting or hyperactivity
  • Persistent aggression or disobedience
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Irritability, sadness or depression
  • Frequent temper tantrums

How To Seek Help

Referrals and information regarding types of the services which are readily available for kids can be obtained from:

  • Libraries, hotlines and mental health organizations
  • Other families in community
  • Other professionals like the school counselor or the child's pediatrician
  • Family network organizations
  • Crisis outreach teams
  • Psychiatric care (community-based)
  • Special education services
  • Health services
  • Support groups and family resource centers
  • Advocacy and protection groups and organizations
  • Support groups and self-help

Dr. Sharmistha Barai, MD is a leading Child & Adolescent psychiatrist based in Saint Louis, Missouri, using her talents and expertise to treat clients for depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar and personality disorders. Dr. Sharmistha specializes in general psycho-geriatrics, child and adolescent psychiatry, drug and alcohol. She completed a MBBS degree (medical degree equivalent) at Lady Hardings Medical College, in New Delhi, India (2002).
Also read: Mental Health Importance Among Youth Discussed by Dr. Sharmistha Barai

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