It is easy for parents to identify their child's physical needs: lots of good food, warm clothes when it's cold, bedtime at a reasonable hour. However, a child's mental and emotional needs may not be as obvious. Good mental health allows your youngster to think clearly, to develop socially and to learn new skills. Additionally, suitable playmates, encouraging words from adults and guidelines for behavior are all important for helping your child develop self-confidence, high self-esteem, and a healthy emotional outlook on life.

Your child's physical and mental health are both important.

Basics for a child's good physical health:

  • Nutritious food
  • Adequate shelter and sleep
  • Exercise
  • Immunizations
  • Healthy living environment

Basics for a child's good mental health:

  • Unconditional love from family
  • Self-confidence and high self-esteem
  • The opportunity to play with other children
  • Encouraging teachers and supportive caretakers
  • Safe and secure surroundings
  • Appropriate guidance and discipline

Give Your Child Unconditional Love

Love, security and acceptance should be at the heart of family life. Your child needs to know that your love does not depend on his or her accomplishments. Mistakes and/or defeats should be expected and accepted. Confidence grows in a home that is full of unconditional love and affection.

Nurture Your Child's Confidence and Self-Esteem

  • Praise Your Child. Encouraging your child's first steps or his or her ability to learn a new game helps your child develop a desire to explore and learn about his or her surroundings. Allow your child to explore and play in a safe area where they cannot get hurt. Assure your child by smiling and talking to him or her often. Be an active participant in your child's activities. Your attention helps build his or her self-confidence and self-esteem.

  • Set Realistic Goals. Young children need realistic goals that match their ambitions with their abilities. With your help, older children can choose activities that test their abilities and increase their self-confidence.

  • Be Honest. Do not hide your failures from your children. It is important for youngsters to know that we all make mistakes. It can be very reassuring to know that Mom and Dad are not perfect.

  • Avoid Sarcastic Remarks. If your child loses a game or fails a test, try to find out how he or she feels about the situation. Your youngster may be discouraged and need a pep talk. Later, when your child is ready, talk about a new way to play the game or study.

  • Encourage your child. Not only to strive to do his or her best, but also to enjoy the process. Trying new activities teaches children about teamwork, self-esteem and new skills.

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