Written in Partnership with In the City Camps
Helping your child develop good coping skills will benefit them throughout their life. Building strong coping skills is helpful for all children and especially for those navigating mental health challenges such as depression or anxiety. Here are some tips on fostering a supportive environment at home:
- Encourage your child to talk about their feelings — in a judgment-free zone.
Allowing a young person to express their feelings freely is a huge gift. Be a sounding board, and offer advice and support in a nonjudgmental way. This is sometimes easier said than done. Establish a network of trusted adults who can support your child, so they can access safe spaces in different places. Options include relatives, clergy, school staff, camp counselors, trusted neighbors and family friends.
- Express often how much you love and support them.
Direct expressions of love and support are not always at the forefront of our minds. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day “dos” and “don’ts” and to forget to pause and remind your children how much you care about them. While adults have different feelings about verbal expressions of love, children need to hear the words out loud. In addition to making sure your child feels loved and safe, let them know you support and believe in them.
- Set and follow consistent routines.
A regular schedule really helps children — and adults — thrive. Regular meals, school, activity and sleep schedules not only are good for you and your child’s overall health; they set wonderful examples for your child’s future. This is not to say you can’t make adjustments, especially during holidays and school breaks. But overall, try your best to keep your household on a regular schedule.
- Set and uphold appropriate boundaries.
Boundaries are important for healthy development. A boundary is the limit we set that communicates what is expected. If a boundary is crossed or broken,consequences should be “natural” and make sense to both the parent and child. Handling the matter calmly and giving consequences that are logical in nature supports your child in changing behavior rather than making them feel shamed. Behavior does not define your child or make them “good” or “bad.” Focus on giving feedback for the specific behavior you would like to see change. This helps prevent your child from internalizing your feedback as a reflection on their character.
For more Jewish mental health resources from the Blue Dove Foundation, visit thebluedovefoundation.org/resources.