By: Ukauwa Chidinma Evelyn

Updated on July 17, 2020.

Parents, guardians, and teachers often expect good grades from children. But times when their grades do not turn out as expected, parents may be unhappy and even be worried.

While there are several factors that can influence children’s performances, mental health plays a major role in enhancing children’s performances. When students mental health needs are properly addressed, the likelihood of school success increases (Swapnajaidupally & KavithaKiran, 2015).

If children’s physical health is well taken care of, and their mental health is not properly attended to, they wouldn’t be able to perform well academically. More attention needs to be paid to improve children’s mental health. There is approximately just one child with positive emotion for every three to four children with negative emotions; (Ellsworth & Smith, 1988).

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-beings. Mental health affects how children think, make decision, feel, and act.
If children’s thoughts and feelings are affected, it will affect their academic performances. For example, a child who is worried about what went wrong at home would surely have trouble concentrating in class.
Here are some basic guides that will help improve children’s mental health.

1. Make them feel comfortable around you: when children are being brought up in a way that they can freely express themselves around adults, it helps improve their mental health. They will feel less anxious and be confident to say what is in their minds. When children are used to the pattern of speaking freely, they would also be able to express themselves in academic settings. Thus making room for academic success. Making children feel free around you improves their confidence and reduces anxiety.

2. Asking children how they feel: Just as adults, children have their own emotions, thoughts, and feelings. Everything that involves children should not be centered only on what adults feel or think about.We should consider children’s thoughts and feelings.
Asking them how they feel makes them see how important they are. Also, it will help adults know the right things children need. Furthermore, adults would know when their children are happy and what makes them happy. Also, asking how children feel would encourage children to open up about the task given unto them and would also help improve their self-esteem.

Source: Unsplash. Photo credit: Mi Pham

3. Make them happy: Happiness is an important factor that determines the mental health of a child. If a child often feels sad, he/she would find it difficult to perform up to his/her ability.Happiness is fuel for children to attain academic excellence. Parents, guardians, and teachers can only get the best of a child when they make them happy. Playing with kids can be a simple way of making them happy. It also changes their moods and makes them feel relaxed.Therefore, a way to improve children’s mental health is to ask how they feel.

Source: Unsplash. Photo credit: Janko Ferlic

4. Expose them to information or activities that will improve their mental health.
The type of information they receive from their environment has a role to play in their mental health. Positive information helps improve mental health, while negative ones may damage it.
For example, a child who witnessed her parents had an argument may become unhappy and may be unable to function well at school. But when children witness and perform activities that make them happy, they do better in their academics.
Both positive and negative information is usually everywhere. As much as negative information affects adults, it also affects children. A way we can help children avoid the damage that can be done through negative information is by helping them filter the kind of information they receive. Parents should choose to discuss more positive information during family meals. Discussing positive information will help them reflect more on things that will improve their mental health.
Also, activities that improve mental health such as exercising, having family meals and storytelling, etc. Should be constantly done. Children should also be allowed to do things that they enjoy. For example, a child may enjoy singing, playing the piano and swimming, etc. Allowing them to engage themselves with the activities that they enjoy improves their mental health.

5. Seek Professional Help: While there may be general guidelines that will help in improving children’s mental health, it is a good idea to seek professional help so as to help identify and improve the specific situation where a child needs help.

Swapnajaidupally & KavithaKiran (2015). Role of schools in child’s mental health. International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research and Development, 2, 393 – 393.

Ellsworth, P.C., & Smith, C.A. (1988). Shades of joy: Patterns of appraisal differentiating pleasant emotions. Cognition and Emotion. 2, 301–331.

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