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How to Nurture Mental Health for Children

Medically reviewed by Jezreel Esguerra, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Ruby Fernandez · Updated Dec 09, 2022

How to Nurture Mental Health for Children

Identifying and providing for a child’s physical needs like food, clothing, and shelter may be easy. But identifying and dealing with child and adolescent mental health may be harder. What are some ways of nurturing children and adolescents’ mental health? Let’s discuss this critical issue in more detail.

Mental Health for Children and Adolescents

These days, mental health has become a prominent issue not just among adults, but among children and adolescents as well.

Data from the World Health Organization show that 10-20% of children and adolescents worldwide have undiagnosed mental disorders.

Many factors can affect mental health for children and adolescents such as:

  • a growing need to be independent
  • peer relationships and pressure to conform with target cliques
  • discovering gender roles and how it relates to their gender identity versus gender norms
  • emerging dependence on technology
  • quality of living conditions including socio-economic status
  • physical, emotional, and behavioral conditions

A healthy child or adolescent will be happy, well-adjusted, and emotionally stable as he or she grows. There is nothing wrong with bouts of sadness as long as it is not long-standing, and doesn’t occur with other symptoms like changes in appetite, sleep habits, etc. However, as a parent, look out for some of these warning signs that your child may be having or showing some mental or psychological distress:

  • clinical or situational depression that MAY INITIALLY PRESENT as sadness that does not go away
  • social withdrawal, which may lead to absenteeism, which in turn affects a child’s academic performance
  • changes in behavior, moods, or personality such as sudden extreme irritability
  • sudden changes in the child’s eating habits or weight
  • sleeping disorders
  • Somatization of symptoms where underlying psychological issues present themselves as physical symptoms. For example, they might have increasing instances of headaches or stomach aches 
  • being easily distracted or having difficulty concentrating on tasks
  • self-inflicted injuries
  • talking about wanting to hurt themselves
  • talking about suicide or death


The last three signs are especially concerning; it would be best to get the child or adolescent psychological/psychiatric help immediately or urgently.

How Nurturing Techniques Helps Mental Health for Children

Here are some basic nurturing techniques that you can try: 

Love from Family Members

This love is unconditional. It involves a love that does not depend on a child’s accomplishments. This is a love that is caring but realistic.

Confidence and Self-Esteem

Your child will make mistakes and suffer disappointments. These are natural events in any person’s life. And how you respond to these events has an effect on your child or adolescent’s self-esteem. Positive responses can generally help your child gain confidence and self-esteem. Consider these suggestions:

  • Instead of meting out harsh punishments, encourage your child to learn from the mistake. 
  • Reward good behavior through verbal praise; point out natural or logical consequences; or take away privileges. An important part of the disciplining process is to explain the need for it, talking with your child or adolescent about what needs to be done, and following through with the process.
  • Instead of imposing unrealistic goals, help your child set realistic goals that take into account their abilities and ambitions. As a parent, you will have a good idea of your child’s skills and potential. 
  • Instead of being harsh, encourage your child to talk about her or his feelings. You can even share your own mistakes and disappointments and what you did to overcome them. This can make your child understand that no one is perfect.
  • Instead of focusing on the negative, encourage your child to find the solution to the problem or determine the best method to bounce back from a disappointment. Go beyond the black and white or the yes or no. By using open-ended questions, you can guide your child to independently seek answers and learn lessons.
  • Instead of accusations, go for constructive criticism. This is important if your child is already an adolescent, who is more likely to be easily upset or sensitive to negative feedback.


Play has a central role in mental health for children and even adolescents. Provide your child and/or adolescent with plenty of opportunities to be physically and socially active with friends and peers, particularly through outdoor activities. Go to parks, community or mall events, or even neighborhood activities. On special days like rainy days or nationwide quarantines, you can be your child’s playmate.

Instead of watching television or playing video games, encourage your child to move through physical games like tag or dance, to be curious through exploration activities like gardening, or to analyze through mind games like Monopoly or Jenga.

Never underestimate the importance of play for your child’s physical, mental, and social development. Play offers a context for your child to develop cognitive skills, physical abilities, language and literacy skills, emotional perseverance, and social skills. Further, it helps your child to reduce stress and anxiety. Play’s mix of simple and complex rules allows your child to eventually navigate the rules of society.

Support from Other Caregivers

There is a reason why teachers are child’s second parent. Your child spends an increasing amount of time at school. In this environment, teachers are the caretakers of your child. This does not mean that you have to leave everything to your child’s teachers.

Although they are trained to teach, not all educators are trained to deal with ensuring the mental well-being of children and adolescents. If you communicate regularly with your child’s teachers, then you can provide a more comprehensive and consistent, two-pronged approach for your child or adolescent’s mental wellbeing.

Safety and Security

The real world can be a scary place for your child. Providing a safe and secure home can alleviate your child’s fears. Your home can be the one place where fears can be discussed freely without criticism. Always remember that the fear may be very real and important to your child, so helping her or him navigate through the fear is important for mental wellbeing.

Key Takeaways

Nurturing mental health or well-being for children or adolescents can be summarized as: Being loving, encouraging, and reassuring instead of nagging, threatening, or controlling. Choose to be firm but kind. If you feel that you’re overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to consult your child’s pediatrician or a mental health professional near you.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Jezreel Esguerra, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Ruby Fernandez · Updated Dec 09, 2022

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