With long hours, back-to-back meetings and endless deadlines, it’s easy to get swept away in fast-paced business environments, which can often mean that our home lives take a back seat.
But as one in six children experience mental health problems, it’s our duty as parents to do the best we can to meet and support their needs. We’ve identified five ways in which working parents can support their children’s mental health, while still leading busy and successful careers.
Encourage open communication
Promoting open and honest conversation with your child is one of the most fundamental aspects of supporting their mental health. There are various ways in which this can be approached, for example by listening to and understanding their worries, spending one-to-one quality time with them, and staying involved with their lives, according to the NHS. There are also a number of resources to help you start and navigate difficult conversations, to ensure you’re encouraging them to open up.
However big or small their worries are, it’s important to take what they say seriously, to ensure they feel heard and supported.
Lead by example
As parents, we’re more often than not our children’s role models, so it’s important to demonstrate good practice to ensure they follow suit. One study showed that when children are exposed to both maternal and paternal figures with poor mental health, they’re more likely to face greater distress in adulthood.
Although looking after our own mental health can be challenging, adopting healthy habits and creating a safe and welcoming environment will likely reflect positively on your child.
Build a structured routine
When juggling work and family life, it can be difficult to implement and maintain regular routines. However, studies have shown that building regular routines, such as bedtime, exercise and healthy eating routines, have a positive impact on a child’s mental health. One study found that sleep routines develop a number of positive outcomes beyond just improved sleep, such as language development, literacy, child emotional and behavioural regulation, parent–child attachment, and family functioning, among other outcomes.
Note behavioural changes
Around 1 in 8 children and young people experience behavioural or emotional problems growing up, according to the NHS. Children may not always want to share challenges that they are facing, and some may not know how to, so it’s important to spot behavioural patterns ahead of time. Four behavioural changes to look out for, according to the NHS, are:
- Ongoing difficulty sleeping
- Withdrawing from social situations
- Not wanting to do things they usually like
- Self-harm or neglecting themselves
Seek professional help
Although we want to provide our children with everything they need, sometimes it’s best to seek outside professional help to ensure they are receiving the best possible support. There are a number of resources available, including: