How to Raise an Emotionally Healthy Child

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A mentally healthy child feels good, has high self-esteem and interacts well with others.
Even though they don’t face the same pressures from life as adults, a child’s mental health requires the same attention. After all, they are at a point when foundations are being laid out; it is crucial that you start early (from infancy). A mentally healthy child is free from mental conditions, feels good, has high self-esteem and interacts well with others.

Feed Them Well

What your children eat affects their mental health. Eating a Mediterranean diet or other healthy dietary patterns, comprising of fruit, vegetables, legumes, and nuts and low in processed meats is associated with preventing the onset of depression, according to research published in the journal BMC Medicine.
 “These diets are all associated with physical health benefits and now we find that they could have a positive effect on our mental health,” says Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, the lead researcher of the study. Another study by the University of Gothenburg shows that children consuming a Mediterranean Diet are 15 percent less likely to be overweight.

Keep Them Active

There is a growing body of research showing the link between exercise and good mental and physical health. A study by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology published earlier in the year shows that physically active children are less depressed. “Being active, getting sweaty and roughhousing offer more than just physical health benefits. They also protect against depression,” says Tonje Zahl, the first author of the study.

Make Sure They Get Enough Sleep

The benefits of sleep cannot be emphasized enough. Good quality sleep is critical in the development of the body and mind of children. “Here are signs that your child is not getting quality sleep: he often falls asleep in the stroller or car when you’re out doing errands; he often wakes up crying, grumpy or painfully confused,” says Marc Weissbluth M.D., author of ‘Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child: A Step-by-Step Program for a Good Night’s Sleep’.

Take Care of Yourself

If you’re not mentally fit, the chances of your children the following suit are the same. How do you respond to stress? Children can easily mimic your behaviour later in life. If you’re mentally ill, seek help. The children of mentally ill parents have a higher risk of developing mental illnesses themselves over the course of their lives, reports a study published in the journal Deutsches Ärzteblatt International.

This, the study explains, is due partly to genetic influences and partly to an impairment of the parent-child interaction because of the parent’s illness.
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