Boosting Our Kids’ Mental Health is More Important Than Ever
Wedgwood Christian Services, 3300 36th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512
Wedgwood Christian Services, a leader in Grand Rapids counseling, has watched the demand for mental health services explode over the last few years.
To help, they have tips for families to start the healing at home.
The state of youth mental health has been declared a national emergency, thanks in part to the long-lasting effects of the pandemic and the rise in social media use.
It’s incredibly important for us as parents and caregivers to be intentional in doing all we can to empower kids, build resiliency, and develop healthy coping skills.
Wedgwood loves helping families develop these strategies and build bonds between caregivers and children and they’ve seen great results with a simple at-home practice that they’re sharing with us.
Spending 10 Intentional Minutes a Day With Your Kids can Change Everything
One of the best ways to connect with your children is to spend time with them. Wedgwood says that just 10 intentional minutes is all it takes.
Notice the word intentional. Our devices demand our attention constantly and it’s easy to get caught up in checking texts while talking to kids, watching videos while making dinner and posting pictures on Instagram.
What if you and your kids tried each day to put down the screens and be fully present?
Research shows that spending just 10 intentional minutes per day will improve your relationship with your kids as well as their mental health (and yours, too!).
“Ten minutes seems like nothing to some parents,” says Kari Schulte, a clinical supervisor at Wedgwood Christian Services. “But it can be overwhelming to others.”
Practicing Ten Intentional Minutes With Young Kids
Her advice to get started is simple. Pick a consistent time each day to spend these intentional minutes with your kids.
“Spending 10 minutes with each individual kid allows them to feel special,” Kari comments.
They get to have your exclusive attention for ten whole minutes.
“But if you only have the bandwidth to do a group game with all your kids at once, that is beneficial, too.”
Choose an activity that you enjoy doing as well as your child. That way you will look forward to one-on-one time together, too.
Don’t play video games for these ten minutes. Do something that doesn’t involve a screen. Think Legos, board games or coloring. Your brain needs the screen break as well as theirs.
“This doesn’t have to be anything grand,” Kari reminds parents. “It just needs to be predictable.”
The goal of these 10 intentional minutes is to create shared experiences with your child that will stay with them for their whole lives.
How to Connect With Tweens & Teens
While it can be easy to think of things to do with younger kids, tweens and teens can be more challenging.
“They don’t know what they like from day to day,” Kari laughs.
She suggests letting them take the lead. Anything you can do in tandem with them is valuable.
Teens and tweens are reporting in higher numbers that they are feeling lonely.
“Even though they are surrounded by screens and devices, they are lacking that real human connection,” Kari says.
Simple things like going for a walk around the block, cooking dinner together or baking cookies together can be good activities for this age group.
Kari warns against forcing them to talk to you. Just being present with them and showing them that you want to spend time with them can go a long way.
Another method to connect with this age group is to just have times where your phone is put away, whether it’s while you’re making dinner or for an hour or so afterwards.
When the phone is gone, it’s a sign that you’re approachable.
“Just be available to them.”
The Benefits Will Last a Lifetime
As you spend more time with your children, you will be laying the foundation for a healthy relationship for the long term.
Spending these 10 minutes together where your child feels safe talking to you about the small stuff will allow them to feel comfortable coming to you about the big stuff.
This special time together will also establish that you are a safe person and they are important to you.
About Wedgwood Christian Services
Wedgwood Christian Services is always there to help support you and your family.
As a Christian nonprofit organization, Wedgwood provides a wide range of social services to meet the needs of the Grand Rapids community.
Their Outpatient Counseling and Psychiatry Services has immediate openings for all ages, kids through adults.
Most insurances are accepted.
Contact Wedgwood Christian Services today to get started!