We all want our children to be “happy”, but what is happiness? This question has been explored by countless universities. In recent years, Yale University founded a course titled “Psychology and the Good Life” and it has become one of their most popular courses. This course explores the keys to happiness and is now available online to the public on Coursera identified as “The Science of Well-Being”. In this course, Professor Laurie Santos links happiness to kindness, social connection, gratitude, mindfulness, and positive health habits such as sleep and nutrition.
As parents, we are often aware of any slight physical changes in our child. We look out for their health and wellness by taking them to the doctor at any sign of illness, for their vaccinations, and we bandage a skinned knee. However, mental health can be a challenge to identify. Focusing on observable behaviors and having daily conversations with our children is critical to understanding their mental well-being. Our young children often wear their emotions on their sleeves and show us through tears or exclamations of excitement how they are feeling. As teens move into middle school, they often become more guarded with their emotions. Adolescents are beginning to pull away from parents and focus more on peer relationships. While this is normal and healthy as they develop their own identity, it’s important to realize they still need parental reassurance, support and nurturance.
How can you identify if your child is in emotional distress? These observable indicators may help you:
Here are some guidelines for starting the conversation with your child about their mental health and well-being:
Episcopal School’s mission statement focuses on developing the “whole child”. We want to partner with you to support your children to grow into successful and happy young adults. This May marks the 70th year that the Mental Health Association of American recognizes “Mental Health Awareness Month” providing an opportunity for us to talk openly about mental health and our children’s happiness. If you have concerns for your child’s mental health, please reach out to your division counselor. We are available to collaborate and provide support.
Yale University Course on “Psychology and the Good Life” https://news.yale.edu/2018/02/20/yales-most-popular-class-ever-be-available-coursera
Coursera offering Yale Course “The Science of Well-Being” https://www.coursera.org/learn/the-science-of-well-being
Mental Health America: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/about-us
NBC News Learn Parent Toolkit: https://www.parenttoolkit.com/health-and-wellness/conversation-starter/mental-health/tough-talks-how-to-talk-to-your-child-about-mental-health
Child Mind Institute: https://childmind.org/article/tips-communicating-with-teen/
Alicia Kelly has served as a School Counselor at Episcopal since 2001. As the Middle School Counselor, she has a passion for helping preadolescents reach their potential, academically, emotionally, and spiritually. Alicia holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, Masters in Health Sciences - Rehabilitation Counseling, and is a Certified School Counselor.