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Wellbeing for kids: Handy tips for concerned parents

A common argument is that we should get into healthy habits right from the get-go to avoid having to change ingrained habits later. So, should kids also be imbibed with this proactive wellness approach?

Wellness Daily spoke with Amba Brown, the author of the Finding Your Path book series, which lists tips for kinder, primary and secondary schooling students, respectively. 

In this conversation, Ms Brown outlined the particular issues faced by our children, how to navigate these, and what support parents and families can offer on this front. 

Why is it so important for wellness management to start from an early age? 

Young children have the intelligence and ability to learn and implement self-care strategies, and I believe it's important we start making this a priority. If we can teach kids to develop healthy habits during childhood, we're setting them up for successful stress management in the future – which is invaluable, as stress is a part of life. 

What are the most common mental health and wellbeing issues that children will face, once they start primary school and then moving forward?

There are several significant issues youth face today, from the age-old issues of bullying, identity and body image, to various new issues including those surrounding social media. I think the overwhelming amount of concerns prevalent today is at the heart of the problem. For simplicity's sake, we can break these down into three key categories: the academic, social and emotional challenges.  

How can parents better support their young kids with these issues, especially on top of busy jobs and domestic duties? 

The extent to which these academic, social and emotional challenges impact children is obviously highly individual. Having open conversations with your children about their experiences, modeling healthy lifestyle habits (exercise, diet and sleep) and encouraging them to engage in positive coping strategies, such as breathing exercises during times of stress, are some simple strategies parents can undertake. 

What messaging can parents, mentors, teachers, etc. give to kids to get them to look after themselves without scaring them about wellness?

My motto is always to make self-help fun! Think up ways you can make healthy habits an enjoyable activity in your home. If we can teach children that when we do good, we feel good, then living a mindful and healthy life becomes what they want to be doing, not what they should be doing. 

What will be the benefits of ensuring that our kids are on top of their wellbeing? 

Through my work on supporting youth transitions, I've learnt the importance of self-care, especially during difficult times. Not only is it well reported that there is a significant correlation between positive experiences from a young age and mental health, but also that these positive experiences are a predictor of long-term academic and occupational achievement. 

I strongly believe that if we prioritise teaching kids how they can keep on top of their wellbeing, this is the answer to combating the alarming and increasing mental health statistics that we've become all too familiar with today.

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“Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain