On Your Mind: Top 5 ways to keep your kids mentally healthy

As a mom, it’s pretty easy to know my child’s physical needs — good food, safe housing, plenty of sleep and exercise.

But children’s mental and emotional needs aren’t as obvious. Good mental health allows kids to develop emotionally, socially and intellectually. More than 20 percent of children and teens have mental health problems. These tips from Ozark Guidance can help you make sure your kids stay mentally healthy:

1. Communicate: Spend time every day listening and talking to your children about what’s happening in their lives. Share emotions and feelings with them.

2. Give kids unconditional love: Children need to know that your love does NOT depend on what they do.

3. Nurture confidence and self-esteem: Praise and encourage your children, and set realistic goals that test their abilities.  Accept mistakes and failures as a part of life.

4. Encourage children to play: Playtime is important for a kid’s emotional development. Play helps children be creative, develop problem-solving skills and self-control, and learn how to get along with others.

5. Give appropriate guidance and discipline: Be firm but kind and realistic with your expectations. The goal is not to control your children but to help them learn self-control.

If you’re concerned that your child is having problems, remember that Ozark Guidance offers a range of services for kids in Northwest Arkansas. Through individual, group and family therapy, support services, school-based services, therapeutic day treatment and residential treatment, Ozark Guidance is helping save and change lives by providing quality, mental health care. We’re lucky to have this kind of organization in our area, so use it when you have a need. For more information, click here or call 1.800.234.7052 or visit the website at ozarkguidance.org.