Posted Jun 20, 2024 | Share this:

In today’s fast-paced world, mental health has become a crucial aspect of our lives, especially for our children. As parents, guardians, or caregivers, it is our responsibility to guide our children through the complexities of life, ensuring they grow up to be well-rounded, emotionally stable individuals. Our latest podcast episode delves into the practical tips and strategies for managing children’s mental health, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the key takeaways from this episode is the importance of setting boundaries and providing direction for our children. In a society that often promotes a laissez-faire approach to parenting, it is essential to remember that children need structure and guidance. As the host eloquently put it, “You are their parent. You were not put on this earth to be their friend. You were put on this earth to teach them how to be a productive member of society and to be good and kind people.”

Another critical aspect discussed is the impact of electronics on children’s mental health. Excessive screen time can lead to increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and can foster addictive behaviors. Reducing electronic usage and encouraging outdoor physical activities can significantly improve a child’s mental well-being. The host emphasized, “Decrease electronics because it increases negative chemicals. Believe it or not, when they’re playing Clash of Clans, Fortnite, or Grand Theft Auto, it can increase cortisol levels and also increases addictive behaviors.”

Physical activities play a vital role in maintaining positive mental health, especially for boys. Boys naturally have a higher need for physical exertion, and engaging them in sports or other physical activities can help reduce aggression and defiant behaviors. As mentioned in the episode, “Boys genetically need physical activities. This is why you see a little girl who can sit down and play dollies or color, but the boys are literally finding anything to turn into a weapon.”

The episode also covers various coping skills and techniques that can help children manage stress and anxiety. Techniques like 4×4 breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and the THINK method are practical tools that can be easily incorporated into daily routines. However, the host encourages parents to identify what works best for their children, stating, “Always use the best practice. Now, if any one of those textbook versions feel like a best practice to you, great. Use them.”

In conclusion, this episode is a treasure trove of practical advice for parents looking to support their children’s mental health. By setting clear boundaries, reducing screen time, encouraging physical activities, and teaching effective coping skills, we can help our children navigate the challenges of life with resilience and confidence. Tune in to the full episode to gain deeper insights and start implementing these strategies today. Remember, a satisfied soul begins with a healthy mind.

Scroll down to read full transcript or head over to Spotify to LISTEN IN.


This is part three of our series on mental health for kids

>> Pastor Sarah: Hey, followers, back to mental health for kids. This is part three. So we talked about originally the levels of anxiety and depression after Covid. The second one was how the brain works, and this one’s going to be a little bit more of the to dos, like practical tips for dealing with kiddos with mental health deficits. So, like I said in the last episode, everybody has mental health. You have the negative or the deficit of mental health, and the positive or the, increase, of mental health. one is healthy version, one is not healthy version, but it’s still mental health.

In order for kids to have positive mental health, they need direction

So some things I want to talk about, kiddos, in order for them to have a increase in positive mental health, they need direction. We often in this society think, I’m going to let them figure it out for themselves. I’m going to, let them make the choice. No, no. Double no. You are their parent. You were not put on this earth to be their friend. You were put on this earth to teach them how to be a productive member of society and to be good and kind people. And your job is to work your way out of a job. At some point, they’re going to launch into the world, and you need to know that they’re not total hooligans, that they can manage and function without your support, and they’re good.

So they need directions. You create a schedule for them. So time of day to wake up, time of day to go to bed, time to eat, time to have snacks, activities, to do throughout the day, getting, their brain pumped with different kinds of brain teasers or books to read or math projects or activities outside or physical sports. Create a schedule for them. Create absolutes. So, in nurtured heart approach, I briefly mentioned that during last episode. It talks about absolutes. Absolute yes, absolute no, and absolute clarity. Absolutely. We can go to the park after you clean your room. Now, once upon a time, we used to say, clean your room, and then we’ll go to the park. But that displays the negative piece to them first, and they get stuck on the negative piece. If you display the positive piece first of going to the park, then they know that it’s going to happen. They just have to complete this one task. So, absolutely, we can go to the park after you pick up your bedroom. Absolutely.

Is there are things you cannot do in our house? You cannot, hit your siblings, you cannot disrespect your parents. You cannot, deliberately trash somebody else’s property. You cannot abuse animals. There’s, like, absolute things that you cannot do. And if you choose to make that choice, you have earned yourself a consequence. So it’s not me. I did not do it. It’s not my fault. You’re grounded. You chose this action. Therefore, your consequence that you earned is this. And so you got to be very deliberate about having those consequences in place ahead, of time, so that they’re aware, talk with your spouse or their other parent and make that decision. As a collective, you are their parents, not one parent against another.

Even if you’re divorced, even if you’ve never been in a relationship, you co parent, which means you make decisions for both households as it pertains to your child that you have together, which means you set the same bedtime, you set the same time frame of how much electronics they get to use.

You set the expectations for what kinds of friends they’re allowed to have in their life. As a team, you’re their parents. You make that decision together. It does not matter if you live in two separate households. Have we had conversations? Your dad and I will talk about this and we will get back to you. We have decided this is the option. We are going to ground you for this behavior. It’s never. Well, I’m doing this because dad, made me. Or, you know, it’s all mom’s fault that you have to know. It is a we conversation. Do not allow your kids to bring division into your household as their parents. Even if you have two separate households, it is still a wee conversation. If your child is grounded at dad’s house, then, by golly, when they go to mom’s house, guess what? They’re still grounded. You cannot have one strict parent and one Disneyland parent. It doesn’t work. That causes division, and the kids know it. And they know how to manipulate that.

Change their habits, decrease electronics, because it increases negative chemicals. Believe it or not, when they’re playing clash of clans fortnite, Oh, gosh. Grand theft auto. I mean, that in itself should be a no no, halo, anything like that. Even sadly, even like car racing. it can increase cortisol levels and it also increases addictive behaviors. And so that would cause anger. That would cause aggression, that would cause, defiance. And so if you want those negative behaviors to decrease, then you have to decrease the electronic usage.

Get them outdoors physically doing things, because that will pump dopamine into their system. Get them reading, using their imagination, because that will increase serotonin levels. So you have to change these negative behaviors in order to get positive results. It increases blood flow when you’re having them do activities. It gives them energy, and it, like I said, gives them positive chemicals in their brain.

So if you’re wanting to see behaviors change, here’s a big one. Boys are not like girls. It doesn’t matter how we try to make them any different, how we try to nurture a different lifestyle. Boys and girls are different, and they’re made that way for a reason. And boys genetically need physical activities. This is why you see a little girl who can sit down and play dollies or color or, you know, pick flowers or swing on the swings. But the boys are literally finding anything to turn into a weapon. They’re finding anything to climb on, anything to destroy or make a mess out of. They have to have physical. So it’s natural for a five to nine year old to climb and jump and make shooting noises with a paper towel roll because that is in their nature.

If you have a boy with ADHD, well, that’s a whole other step in the level of needing physical activities. Those kids absolutely should be in soccer, taekwondo, karate, football, basketball. Anything that exerts their physical status will help decrease those attention seeking type behaviors and it will decrease their acting out behaviors. So sports, sports, sports.

I cannot stress that enough when it comes to boys, when they get older and they’re teenagers. Weightlifting in sports, weightlifting in sports. We have a boxing bag in our garage, because once upon a time, I was a group home manager of teenage boys, and when I started to see that aggression flare up, I literally would just turn to them and in a very monotone voice, I would just say, you have 15 minutes on the bag. And they knew instantly they had to go out to the garage and start punching the punching bag so they could get that aggression out. They came in with a totally different attitude.

So we have one in our garage.

I actually use it, my daughter uses it. But when my son is old enough, because he’s currently in the beginning stage of middle school, when he’s old enough, he will be doing the same. But he is also in football, in basketball, in archery. we have him in all kinds of things to get out the physical side so that he does not become aggressive and does not become defiant, because those are two things that occur when little boys do not get to exercise their body the way they should.

Next are coping skills. So when you have a kiddo that is stressed out, depressed, has anxiety, doesn’t feel well with functioning, doesn’t work or function well with last minute changes, they have to have coping skills in their life. and so for the mental health side to feel via positive mental health, they need to be able to learn how to self regulate. We used to have our, like, I self regulated as a kid, my sister’s self regulated as a kid.

For whatever reason, our children’s generation, like this current elementary school, middle school, and high school generation, they don’t know how to self regulate. They have to rely on so many people, or they, they melt. Like they are wanting to hurt themselves. They are wanting to do things that could be fatal, and it’s because they don’t know how to cope with life, which is why we got the word adulting. My daughter, who is in her twenties, her generation came up with the word adulting. I don’t like to adults. I hate adulting. That’s life. Honey, I’m sorry. When you grow, up and you move out, you have to pay bills. Are, you kidding? You have to have a job to pay bills. You can’t live in an apartment or a house without having a job. This is what happens. But they cannot handle the responsibility of being an adult. And that’s partly because they do not have good self regulation skills.

So there are some standard textbook ones, which I’m going to tell you about. And then there’s also just what’s best practice for them. So for boys, what’s best practice for them is physical activity. Now, grown adults, male grown adults, which we’re talking about kids right now, but I’m just kind of giving you the flip side briefly. Male grown adults, this is why they are extremely sexually active. This is why they, tend to mess around. This is also why they have an increased level of libido that women don’t. It’s because that’s a physical activity that relieves stress. They also fall asleep instantly afterwards because they’ve relieved their stress. So don’t get upset with them when they need their wives, significant others every other day. There’s a reason for it. for women, for adult women, it’s usually talking. We are typically emotional creatures. They’re typically physical creatures. So emotionally, we need to relieve our stress by communicating our feelings and talking our feelings out with others. This is why we quote unquote, spill the tea. Because it’s talking out the issues or the drama that we are involved in. And we need somebody to discuss that with so that we can hear ourselves talk and understand. next step, what’s the best thing for me to do next? So that’s adults, I will say, because our teenagers are becoming more adult ish, they actually work for teenagers too. I don’t recommend them for teenagers because teenager version is for males, unprotected, and for females, it’s gossip, and bullying. so I don’t recommend it for them, however, it does work. But, so the best practices for kids and teenagers, there are things that work well for them, which I will talk about, but I’m going to tell you the textbook stuff first.

So, textbook, there’s something called four by four breathing. Four by four breathing is you inhale through your nose for 4 seconds. You hold that breath for 4 seconds, you exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds, and you hold no breath for 4 seconds. And you do this four times. So you’re regulating a rhythm in your breathing and because you’re having to think about how to breathe because naturally we just breathe in and out without a big deal. But if you think about how to breathe and regulate it, that way you’re actually not able to think about what’s upsetting you because you’re so focused on trying to keep to count. So it works four by four.

Breathing, journaling, you know, keeping a diary. That’s a good one. Best for ladies or girls. Tip actually is a good one for boys. It works for men too. And it can work for ladies and girls. But when you work on the side of women being emotional, girls being emotional, men being physical, boys being physical, tip is actually more physical. Tip is temperature, intense exercise, paced breathing and progressive relaxation.

So temperature is, I am angry and so I’m going to go stand out in the snow, I’m going to put my hands in ice cold water. I’m going to take a polar plunge, I’m going to take a cold shower. It actually drops your temperature level because when you’re angry you tend to raise your temperature level, you tend to get hot under the collar. You feel like you’re hot underneath your skin. It’ll help drastically change that feeling. So that’s temperature regulation.

Intensive exercise is like HIIT training. So you’re doing stuff very, very fast to push yourself past your normal point. So you’re doing, skis, you can YouTube what a ski is for exercise. you’re doing like burpees. That’s a, that’s an intensive one. Or jumping rope or gosh, something. That’s intensive exercise. Not just lifting weights, not just, doing push ups. It’s an intensive version to where your heart rate increases. So if I’m doing push ups, that’s just a regular exercise. If I do declined push ups where my feet are elevated and my head isn’t, that’s an intensive exercise. paced breathing is like four by four breathing. You’re pacing yourself in a rhythm. Progressive relaxation is where you tighten your whole body. And I mean your whole body. Your head, your face, your eyes, your neck, your shoulders, your arms, your fingertips, your chest, your abdomen, your glutes, your pelvis, your thighs, your, calves, your toes, every part of your body, tighten it. And then starting from the top down, you start to release those muscles one at a time. And you can do that in a repetitive motion. So you start by tightening everything, then go back up to your head. And now I’m going to relax my head so I might, you know, move around my face a little bit just to relax those muscles. I’m going to relax my neck. So then I’ll do some neck rolls. I’ll relax my shoulders so I’ll roll my shoulders.

The think method involves tightening parts of the body until you relax them

Basically, you’re getting rid of the tightening in each part of the body, but the rest of your body is tightened until you relax it. Then another one is the think method, is what I have to say. True, helpful, inspiration, aspiring, necessary, and kind. T h I n k. If what I have to think or what I have to say, I got. I want to say something. Probably is not good, but I want to say something. So before I say it, can, I identify that it is true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, and kind. That is the think method.

So there are lots of textbook versions of coping skills, but the best practice. And this is what I want to tell you. From one mother to others, as well as from a therapist to people that are struggling, and from a pastor who loves you and wants you to be the best version of you. Always use the best practice. Now, if any one of those textbook, versions feel like a best practice to you, great. Use them. But what I tell my clients in therapy is I want you to create a list of loves.

I love to read. I love to go bike riding. I love to exercise. I love to sit by the pool. I love to go swimming. I love to paint. I love to journal. Create a list of loves. I love to go hiking.

Then create a list of tries. My, best friend loves, to bench press, but I’ve never done it, so I’m gonna put it on my try list. My other friend swears that kayaking and paddle boarding is awesome. I’ve never tried it, so I’m gonna put it on the try list. You’re gonna put all the things that other people feel that make them feel better on the try list. And you can use those when you need something that maybe your loves are not working. So if I love to read, and usually it feels good, but today I’m so stressed out, I cannot even focus on what I’m reading, then that skill is not going to work for me. But, hey, if I go out paddle boarding and I exert my body, then I decrease my stress because of why I had cortisol, because I was stressed. But since I exerted my body, I now have dopamine in my system, so now I’m not stressed. So you want to create a list of best practices, which are things that, you know, make you deliberately regulated to feel good. In other words, dropping cortisol levels and increasing dopamine and serotonin levels. so for me, it could change on a dime. Usually I can journal and feel so much better, but recently, I’ve dealt with some trauma, and journaling wasn’t helping. And so I had to start doing some really significant physical activities to decrease my cortisol levels. And that has worked.

So you’re gonna have to play around with that, with a little bit with your kids, because you’re not going off of your feelings of how it’s helping. You have to go off of what you’re noticing from your kids.

I notice that my daughter, no matter how much she loves video games and now, no matter how many. How much she loves YouTube videos and playing, in connection with her friends on. On social media or listening to music, it doesn’t work for her to decrease her stress levels. What does work for her is me giving her things to distract her mind. Like, I bought her those little, diamond art things, and that had her distracted, and she was able to calm m down and feel peace. I also got her this project that was like a mystery solving thing. And, boy, she was distracted for a while. Any kind of Lego project, and she’s distracted and it calms her down. So you have to be able to watch your children in a way that you can see a difference in their behavior. And then, you know, that is the correct and best practice skill for them. I hope that helps you.

Those were a lot of practical tools crammed into a, sort of short period of time. I love you all, and remember, you are, seen and loved. God bless you.

Until Next Time!!

Also Check Out...