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Promoting Positive Mental Health: An Activity Guide for Parents

Our expert explains how to create a nurturing environment for your child through everyday activities that help cultivate positive mental health in your little ones.

Michael Gouterman May 21, 2024
  • Family Engagement
  • Health and Development
  • Blog
  • Resource

Activities and experiences play a vital role in shaping a child’s mental health and well-being. Our mental health expert, Michael Gouterman, shares how to create a positive mindset in your child through everyday activities.

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Here are some simple yet powerful activities that can cultivate positive mental health experiences:

  • Establishing Rituals and Routines
    Rituals and routines provide a sense of predictability and stability for young children, helping them feel safe and secure in their environment. Consider incorporating the following rituals and routines into your daily life:

    • Morning and bedtime routines: Establish consistent rituals for waking up and going to bed, such as reading a bedtime story or sharing highlights from the day.
    • Mealtime rituals: Create special traditions around mealtime, such as setting the table together or sharing a favorite family recipe.
    • Transition rituals: Develop rituals for transitions, such as saying goodbye before leaving for school or welcoming your child home after a day apart. ​Don’t be afraid to be creative and make your own unique rituals as a family.

By consistently practicing these rituals and routines, you can instill a sense of familiarity and connection in your child’s daily life, promoting a feeling of safety and predictability.

  • Exploring New Experiences
    While routines provide a sense of security, it’s also important to expose children to new experiences and challenges to support their growth and development. Here are some ways to encourage exploration and curiosity:

By introducing new experiences in a supportive and encouraging environment, you can help your child develop confidence, resilience and a sense of curiosity about the world around them.

  • Cultivating Connection
    Building strong connections with caregivers, family members and peers is essential for promoting positive mental health in early childhood. Here are some ways to foster meaningful connections:

    • Quality time: Set aside dedicated time each day to spend one-on-one with your child, engaging in activities they enjoy and showing genuine interest in their thoughts and feelings. Even for the busiest of schedules, dedicating a small amount time together can have a tremendous impact.
    • Family traditions: Create special traditions and rituals that bring your family together, such as movie nights, game nights or weekend outings.
    • Social interactions: Encourage your child to interact with peers through playdates, preschool or community groups, providing opportunities for friendship and social development.


About the Author

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Michael Gouterman

Mental Health Manager, Early/Head Start Network

Michael has worked in Early Childhood Education for over 12 years and is the Mental Health Manager for our Early/Head Start Network.

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