Tune in to Your Child for Promoting Positive Behavioral Health

More than likely, you know best practices for helping your child stay physically healthy. And you also know that behavioral health is just as important as physical health. But how do you promote positive behavioral wellness, especially in a younger child?

First and foremost, have confidence and trust yourself. No one knows your child better than you. If you believe something is off, or anxieties are higher than you’d consider normal, you’re probably on to something. It’s best to catch these nuances at a young age to start helping your child as early as possible. This can help the issues from escalating out of control.

Some things to look for are changes in behavior or attitude. Examples of this might be:

  • No longer enjoying what used to be a favorite pastime or activity
  • Distancing him or herself from you or from others
  • A change in disposition, from happy or relaxed to angry or irritable
  • Negative reactions to things that weren’t bothersome before (noises, foods, textures, etc.)
  • Trouble falling asleep or sleeping through the night
  • Decline in academic performance or suddenly unwilling to go to school

If you start to notice a change similar to those listed above, it’s important to talk openly with your child, even if he or she is young. Try asking some open-ended questions to get the conversation going and to elicit more than just a yes or no response. For example, you can say: “How are things going with you?” Or, “What’s new at school these days?” Once your child does start to open up, you can try getting more specific details about what is bothersome.

In the case you are unable to make any headway with your child, or even if you do get to the root of the problem but aren’t comfortable in how to address or resolve it, it’s never too early to ask for help. You can get professional support through your child’s guidance counselor, pediatrician, or even a behavioral health specialist.

Changes in behavior are normal as your children grow. But if you feel like some of these changes are out of the ordinary, trust your instincts. Especially at a younger age, when your child is unable to know on their own how to handle what might be wrong. Make sure you’re always tuning in - you are your child’s best advocate!