Children’s Mental Health 

Tips for Taking Care of Parent and Child Mental Health 

By: Mary Campbell, Oasis Parenting Department Director 

You may have heard that the U.S. Surgeon General’s office recently issued an advisory on the declining state of youth mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are many theories as to why this is happening. The bottom line is that it is going to take an effort by all to help improve positive mental health. Please visit the following website if you would like to read more about this study ( 

In this post, we can focus on simple things that will help boost positive moods in our families. Most experts agree that parents are the best model for teaching our children how to manage life stressors. For example, if your favorite 4-letter word comes out every time you are frustrated, guess what will be coming out of your cute toddler’s mouth when they drop their cookie on the floor? 

 First, parents may need to do a self-check to access how their own mental health is coping. Do this by simply taking 5-10 minutes to sit still and “listen” to your mind and body. This is called a “body scan.” Are you tense in any particular area? Is your mind racing about your “to do” list? What is your overall mood at this moment in time? If you need more help on this visit, Once you learn to carve out these brief moments of time you are better able to address what comes next.  

Here are the top 10 tips to help increase positive mental health in both parents and children: 

  1. Make time to just breathe. Just three to six deep belly breaths (in through the nose) and exhale (out through the mouth) can reset your mind and body. Do this as many times a day as needed. Kids can do this too! Here is a link to some fun ones that you can do together
  2. Find time to meditate. Meditate simply means to focus your attention on something that brings you inner peace. There are many great meditation tools on YouTube for adults and children. One of our Parent Educators, Jen Lutke, recommends downloading the Insight Timer App as a valuable resource for mindfulness techniques.  
  3. Get physical. Play with your kids. There are many things you can do inside and outside (yes, even in the winter). Moving your body can also reset your mind. Physical exercise help increase your brain’s mood boosters called endorphins.  
  4. Take time to hug and snuggle too. Did you know that it takes a minimum of 8-12 positive touches a day to help a child feel connected to a parent? This can also include a pat on the shoulder, a high five, or elbow bump. Here is another fun fact, January 21st is National Hug Day! Read about all the amazing benefits here 
  5. Get creative. Do something that brings you joy. Creativity is more than just an art class. Get creative in cooking, writing, dancing, inventing, etc. Here are even more ideas  
  6. Practice gratitude. Choose to focus on things that you are thankful for. Do this by thinking, speaking or even writing them down in a special gratitude journal. Multiple studies show that people who express gratitude are more happy with life and have less anxiety and depression. See more here 
  7. Get good rest. The recommended amount of sleep varies by age and stage of development. Adults need 7 or more hours per night to feel well rested. Teens need 8-10 hours. School age children need 9-12 and preschoolers need 10-13 hours per day (including nap times). 
  8. Improve nutrition. Maybe this starts with taking a multi-vitamin or increasing your water intake. Every day strive to do something beneficial for your health.  
  9. Seek support from trusted friends or family. Set boundaries around those who are not encouraging.  
  10. Reach out for help. If you have tried to improve your mood on your own and it just doesn’t seem to be working-reach out. Show your children that it is okay to ask for help. Seek a professional mental health counselor in your area. Call 2-1-1 for a referral service. Or call our local mental health crisis line at 1-833-295-0616. This is available 24/7.  

Additional Resources: