15 Ways To Take Care Of Your Toddler’s Mental Health

November 17, 2022

Children’s experiences in their earliest years affect how their brains work, the way they respond to stress, and their ability to form trusting relationships. In this period, they develop basic motor (physical) skills, language and communication, and cognitive and emotional behaviour. These skills lay the foundation for developing literacy and other cognitive abilities that are critical for success in school and life. 

Toddler's mental health

Significant mental health problems can and do occur in young children. It could be anxiety disorder, hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, stress disorder, and neuro developmental disabilities, such as autism, at a very early age. That said, young children respond to and process emotional experiences and traumatic events in ways that are very different from adults and older children. 

  1. Focus on quality time: Whether you are a working parent or stay-at-home-parent, carve out times in the day, where you would spend quality time with your toddler. Focussed and distraction-free, and that means, not checking your office emails or your Instagram feed. Even if it is a small game that you play with them, or a book you read to them, or tune into a podcast together- establish your “comfort zone” and make it a routine so they are assured of you spending time with them.
  2. Pick your battles: It is important at this stage to stand firm by certain rules and not give in to every demand of your child. But understand that at this transient phase, toddlers fight for control and try to rebel every time you say NO. As parents we raise our kids in a very autocratic and hierarchical fashion that puts us on a pedestal and gives the power to assume we are right. Pick and choose your battles for a win-win situation.Define your core values and non-negotiables and stand firm on them, but the non-essential ones like choosing the colour of their outfit, or picking a cartoon to watch- give in and watch them mellow down easily.
  3. Be their safe haven: The first time stepping into preschool isn’t an easy journey for your toddler (or for parents) Some kids gel into the crowd very well and make friends easily. But if your toddler is hesitating a bit, and is anxious about the new atmosphere, it is important for them to know that they have your backing and support. If they come back to you crying or refuse to take the first step into school, don’t push them into doing things they don’t want to. Tell them it is okay and you are around in case they want to come back to you. Make promises that you will follow through, no matter what. When they know that you (their safety nest) is around, they will be more willing to try out new things. Define the normal for your family. 
  4. Positive affirmations: At this stage, when you think your toddler is at crossroads, i.e they are no longer that babbling infant and not yet a grade schooler, we often tend to say more NOs than YESes. And that doesn’t sit well in a toddler’s mind. Start appreciating them, and their identity for small acts of kindness and things they get right. Helps boost their morale and they will open up to you in a better way.
  5. Stick to a routine: A change in routine or something new always prompts resistance from a child- especially when they are toddlers. Help them set up routines and follow them, so they know what’s to be done, without you yelling at them. For example, bath times need not always be an ordeal if it is established that it is done at 8 am every morning. Add a certain element of fun to every task, so they look forward to it and not dread it.
  6. The LCR method: Practise the LCR method which is Listen Comfort and Reassure. With our children you want to build a bond that reassures them that no matter how big or small the mistake your parents are there for you.
  7. Help them develop empathy: Helping children feel good about themselves plays an important role in developing a sense of empathy and emotional competence. By creating a positive environment where children are allowed to share their feelings, children will naturally begin to become more generous and thoughtful. Parents can also boost empathy and build emotional intelligence by encouraging their children to think about how other people feel. 
  8. Help them build their emotional vocabulary: Toddlers are developing their linguistic skills and that is why we should first of all focus on building the emotional vocabulary of toddlers. Emotional vocabulary is basically naming the emotion. So if you have a feeling of sadness, it is good if the toddler can say that I’m feeling sad. Hence, parents need to demonstrate this kind of habit in front of toddlers. They have to help build this emotional vocabulary to bring toddlers to a level where they can name it to tame it.
  9. Regulate your own emotions: It is very important for parents to take care of their own emotional health. Strong parents develop strong children and there are umpteen number of studies highlighting that. If children get the exposure where parents have a higher capacity to fight back, show higher levels of resilience, then for sure the children develop these skills too. Build up your own emotional resilience to make sure your kids develop it at an early age.
  10. Accept them for who they are: Not only is accepting them for who they are important but it also helps drive this valuable lesson to our children from a young age.In parenting there is no room for judgement. There is no saying good kid, bad kid, there is no hitting the floor when your child falls, which to me is a clear indication of passing the blame to someone else! It’s about saying this is who I am. I am in my safe haven where I am not judged for how I look, behave. They will accept me for my faults. These are people who will show me the mirror and tell me I am wrong. They will tell me I am wrong, I have fallen and they will help me get back up on my feet.

Reaching out

Reach out to our ‘Experts’ when you feel that your issues are deep-rooted.

Make sure you stick to your treatment plan, take action, and work closely with your mental health practitioner to address your concerns. You can also take a self-assessment on the heyy app to keep monitoring your progress. And remember, change what you can in the present moment and let the rest take its course.

Helpers at heyy, are trained and experienced Mental Health Professionals who are equipped with tools to provide 24×7 mental health care to our users. Toxic workplace, trauma, and chronic stress are severe issues that can have grave mental health consequences.

 

If you identify with any of the symptoms mentioned in this piece, we recommend you reach out to our Helpers to seek help. It is important to remember that it is okay to reach out!

 

Download the heyy, app to take a quick self assessment and get your own stress score to guide you in the next steps of your mental health journey!

 

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