Be ready to talk as children go through changes

Children go through a flurry of changes as they grow. As parents we must be there for support and guidance. The best parents not only provide guidance and discipline, but they model good habits. They show how important healthful practices are at every stage of life and do their best to be knowledgeable.

Let’s review the basics:

A healthy mind

One of the key things for good mental health throughout life is maintain good sleep habits. Making sure children have good sleep is one of the key responsibilities of parents. The brain needs to rest. The rest is needed for learning, memory and attention. While we don’t strain the brain like a muscle, the brain does become fatigued. With fatigue, the ability to concentrate suffers. When children get their rest, they can do their best.

Let your children know they are loved. Encourage them to talk about life, their troubles and their joys. Share your values and surround them with people, books and experiences that reinforce those values. Talk about what is important but seek ways to have fun.

As always, structure vs. free time is a hot topic. With structure comes discipline, character building and accomplishment. With free time, comes the opportunity to explore the world and see where curiosity leads. Remember a mix of discipline and dreaming can complement each other.

A healthful body

As we all know, good habits in eating are extremely valuable and should start early. Birthday cake and ice cream are expressions of love. However, too much of this type of love week-in, week-out can be harmful. Making decisions about how to address sugar and processed fast food early in life is important. Simply put, balance your child’s meals and snacks with fruits, vegetables and protein sources.

Keep moving. Combining exercise with smart eating is the tried and true winning duo. Exercise strengthens bones and muscles. This increases coordination and confidence. Exercise and brain health go together as well.

Moving forward

These basic ideas help children to be physically and mentally fit. The right mix gives them the positive perspectives they need to conquer other eventualities as their bodies and brains develop – and there are plenty of challenges.

Social skills and behavior evolve quickly through the teen years. A child starts to develop skills in planning, problem-solving and self-control and with this may test boundaries. This brain development will continue into adulthood. Everything starts to look different: Bones, organs and body systems continuously change. As children advance through puberty, they may become clumsy and feel not so comfortable with their bodies. It’s a challenging time.

Learn and be ready to talk

As teens go through these changes, be ready to: listen, validate their feelings, show trust, give praise, control your emotions, do things together, share meals, say “I was wrong,” and be observant.

If you would like to learn more, Community Reach Center is offering a live webcast titled “How to talk to your kids about body image, gender identity, sexuality, etc.” This is the third presentation in the Center’s REACH for Wellness series.

The presentation will feature three psychology interns at Community Reach Center: Julia Core, who is a clinical psychology candidate at Azusa Pacific University in southern California; Loraine Fishman, who is a doctorate student at the University of Denver Graduate School of Professional Psychology; and Alec Vicenzi, who is a doctorate intern who attends the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

The live webcast will be 3:30 to 5 p.m. Thursday, June 25. To sign up, please visit the Community Reach Center Facebook link. Please join us!

Around the clock

Remember the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center, 2551 W. 84th Ave., in Westminster is open 24 hours. To learn more about Community Reach Center, a nonprofit mental health center with numerous outpatient offices in north metro Denver, visit www.communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. Community Reach Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services for all ages at locations in Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City, Brighton and Broomfield. We are here to enhance the health of our community. Mental wellness for everyone is our goal.