Support healthy mental and behavioral development
Dr. Kim Rehak outlines strategies to support healthy development and steps to take when concerns arise.
The mental and behavioral health of our children is just as important as their physical health and wellness. Dr. Kim Rehak outlines strategies to support healthy development and steps to take when concerns arise.
• Teach your children responsibilities.
• Talk with your children.
• Listen to your children.
• Find a pediatrician you can trust, with a trained behavioral health care specialist on staff or one who consults with the practice.
• Create a safe, calm home. Tensions in the home, ongoing stress, and other factors can all affect you as a parent and, of course, your child. Get help when help is needed. Make necessary changes.
• Monitor your child’s screen time and your child’s behaviors objectively. Notice the warning signs and remember early intervention is key. With so many modes of communication available and increasing access to technology, oversight is essential.
• Be proactive. Preventative care is always the best medicine. Keep your children busy doing good and positive things. Keep them active and engaged in after-school activities, homework, helping around the house, and contributing to their community.
• Set limits and boundaries appropriate for the health and safety needs of their age and stage of development.
• Encourage independence, providing the room to grow and develop as they become adolescents and young adults and become more autonomous. Of course, this must be balanced with ensuring their safety and welfare.
When you sense problems
Consult your pediatrician or child’s school, depending on where the issues are being observed or reported. A specialist should be able to help determine whether and which type(s) of services are needed and/or whether further assessment/evaluation is recommended.
Seek parent training and counseling which can go a long way in preventing childhood and adolescent mental and behavioral health issues.
Kim Rehak, EdD, is a mental-behavioral health care specialist and co-founder of the International Institute for Behavioral Development in Red Hill, PA.