Understanding your child’s mental health

By Rifa Rasheed



The mental well-being of children is as important as their physical well-being. Maintaining good mental health during childhood helps children reach developmental and emotional milestones and learn healthy social skills and cope well in difficult situations. It aids children to function well at home, in school, and their communities while creating a positive quality of life.

It’s crucial to understand that mental health does not mean the absence of a mental disorder. Children who don’t have a mental disorder might differ in how well they are doing compared to their peers. Likewise, children who have the same diagnosed mental disorder may differ in their development, strengths, and weaknesses they have, ability to cope, and in their quality of life. 

Mental disorders in children are defined as serious changes in the way children behave, learn, or handle their emotions, causing distress and problems getting through the day. It is common for children to occasionally experience fears and worries or display disruptive behaviors. However, if these symptoms become serious and persistent and interfere with home, school, or play activities, take your child to see a mental health professional. 

Warning signs that your child may have a mental health disorder include:

  • Changes in eating habits
  • Loss of weight
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in academic performance
  • Avoiding or missing school
  • Withdrawing from or avoiding social interactions 
  • Outbursts of extreme irritability
  • Drastic changes in mood, behavior, or personality
  • Persistent sadness for two or more weeks
  • Out-of-control behavior that can be harmful
  • Hurting oneself or talking about hurting oneself
  • Talking about death or suicide

Things you can do to ensure the mental wellbeing of your children include:

  • Guarantee good physical health by doing activities like eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise through various forms of play activities
  • Give them time and freedom to play indoors and outdoors
  • Create a supportive family environment where your children can openly express themselves
  • Create a sense of belonging in their family, school, and community
  • Make them feel loved, trusted, understood, valued, and safe
  • Accept who they are and recognize what they are good at
  • Build their resilience by guiding them to cope and enhance their ability to solve problems
  • Give them opportunities to enjoy themselves and make them feel they have some control over their own life
  • Create an optimistic outlook on life


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