By Susie Raskin, MA, LMHC, Pediatric Mental Health Therapist at Orlando Health
We all want our children to be physically and mentally healthy. But what does it mean to be mentally healthy as a child?
Renowned clinical psychologist, psychotherapist and activist Martin Seager says there are five universal musts for all children to grow up mentally healthy. Here’s why each is important:
To be loved. Kids need to feel loved, cared for, protected and respected by key people in their lives such as parents, family members, teachers and friends.
To belong. Belonging does not and should not mean “fitting in.” Instead of looking to others to help define who they are, kids should be encouraged to reflect within themselves to figure that out. Once they know who they are, they can look for others who fit into their world.
To be heard. Sometimes, family members are so intent on getting their own points across that they’re unable to really take in where the child is coming from. But we all need moments where we feel listened to, respected and heard regardless of whether the other party agrees with us.
To have meaning. Whether it stems from an interest, passion, talent or simply a bond with others, children need to feel meaning in their lives. This helps with creating an identity, forming connections with others and learning about things bigger than oneself.
To achieve. Kids benefit when they feel like they are good at something — whether it’s a child riding her bike or a teen landing his first job. Achievement means accomplishments, which lead to positive self-esteem.
Are your children getting their mental health needs met? If you need help, visit ArnoldPalmerHospital.com/FamilyCounseling to learn about counseling services at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.