Supporting Mental Health in Youth
Because parents or guardians are the experts when it comes to their children, they tend to be the first to notice changes in their child’s behaviors. Sometimes these are normal developmental changes. Sometimes, however, changes like increased irritability, isolation, or declining school performance can be worrisome. It can be difficult as a parent to know what to make of this and what to do next. Here are some tips for how to build communication with your child and support them should these concerns arise.
Supporting Your Athlete
- As school gets more difficult and sports get more competitive, it is important to continue letting your child know you support them and are there for them regardless of the outcome. It is important to find a balance between the extremes of being overly critical and not challenging your child enough.
Sports and Development
- Because of the many benefits of physical activity and sports for youth mental health, it can be helpful to get them active at an early age.
- Young children (under 6 years old) are usually introduced to physical activity as play. Children at this age are starting to master their bodies and are learning confidence through trial and error. Providing experiences that are fun (playing basketball, swimming, playing catch) can set the stage for a healthy lifestyle for years to come. For more ways on how to incorporate fitness into your family’s routine click here.
- Older children (6-13 years old) now start to master a wider range of skills through sports, providing the opportunity to build confidence. They become more involved with team sports, learning to make and keep friends and work together with these friends to achieve a common goal. For school-age children, it is important for parents to encourage a balance between organized sports and free, unstructured play that fosters spontaneity and creativity.
- Adolescents (13-18 years old) are forming their own personal identities. Sports at this age provide a close social network. This is also the time youth tend to become more specialized in a specific sport. It is also at this age that children are at increased risk for burn-out due to overspecialization, increased pressures and competing interests (academic work, social pressures, etc.). For more tips on how to parent an athlete to ensure that sports remain a positive experience that support mental health click here.
Content provided in partnership with Messina Leadership Advising, The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds, and The Jed Foundation.