Being a parent is really hard right now. Global rates of depression and anxiety among children and adolescents have doubled since the pandemic began, accelerating a mental health crisis that already existed. Rates of screen time and loneliness are soaring. As parents, we want to help our kids navigate the ongoing uncertainty, but all too often, we don’t know where to start.
That’s why Thrive has created Thriving Kids, providing parents with strategies and science-backed Microsteps to help their kids navigate uncertain times with less stress and more joy. Hosted on Thrive Learn and available to all Thrive customers, Thriving Kids features nine short videos led by Thrive’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Aaliya Yaqub. Here’s a glimpse of what Thriving Kids has to offer, along with a sampling of Microsteps featured in the course.
Parenting With Less Stress, Less Guilt, and More Connection
As a parent, spending any time on yourself can feel selfish, but it’s actually essential to put your own oxygen mask on first. When you take time to recharge and take care of your own well-being, it’s easier to show up as the best parent you can be.
Connecting, even in small ways, can make a big difference for our mental health. Harvard’s famous happiness study, which started in 1938, found that people who are more socially connected to family, friends, and community are happier, physically healthier, and even live longer.
Microstep: Schedule a regular check-in with a parent friend. Set a daily reminder on your phone. Even a quick call or text will help you both feel more connected in an isolating time.
How Parents Can Lead By Example
Study after study shows that our behavior as parents directly impacts our children’s choices, from what they eat to their attitude toward exercise. And one of our biggest, most important role model opportunities for us as parents centers around our relationship with technology.
68% of parents say they feel distracted by their phone when spending time with their kids.And one study found that when two people are in a conversation, the mere presence of a phone can have “negative effects on closeness, connection, and conversation quality.”
Show your kids that they’re more important than what’s on your phone, and set an example for the healthy boundaries they can set with their own screen time.
Microstep: Put your phone away during meals. Make it easy for yourself. Don’t leave it on the table and tell yourself you won’t look. This allows you to be fully present and better connect with others.
Kids, Sleep, and Mental Health
Sleep is connected to everything from our children’s sugar cravings to their stress and anxiety. To help our kids get better sleep, we can start by making sleep a priority and creating rituals that help our kids ease into sleep mode.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, children ages six to 12 should sleep nine to 12 hours per night. Teenagers ages 13 to 18 need eight to 10 hours. If we take a moment to think about how our children transition to bedtime, we can foster a more calming environment that makes getting more sleep that much easier.
Microstep: Set an alarm before bed to signal wind down time. Most of us aren’t able to simply fall into restorative sleep the second our head hits the pillow at the end of the day. Setting an alarm reminds your kids that it’s time to start wrapping things up.
Nourishing Your Body and Mind
What we eat and how we eat is connected to every other part of our lives, like our work, our busy schedules, our culture, our relationships with other people. And the same goes for our kids. By teaching our kids to make small healthy choices throughout the day, we set them up to be healthier in all parts of their lives.
Making better food choices can help our kids improve not just their physical health, but also their mental health and mood. Research shows that childrens’ nutrition habits are linked to focus and memory, which impacts their academic performance, from their grades to their rates of absenteeism and tardiness.
Microstep: Talk to your kids about “brain food.” You don’t have to go into the science, but by letting them know that what they eat can make their brain stronger and healthier, you’ll help them make the connection.
Helping Your Kids Build a Better Relationship With Technology
Technology has been a lifeline for our children, making it possible to learn, connect with others, and broaden their perspective in ways we wouldn’t have dreamed of when we were kids. But screen time has skyrocketed for kids. And that impacts their physical and mental health, their sleep and eating habits, and their relationships — including with us, their parents.
We need to make sure that our kids are getting in-person, face-to-face interactions. Because too much screen time can actually impact children’s ability to develop empathy. It also harms their ability to recognize non-verbal emotional cues, including facial expressions, body language, and other gestures.
Microstep: Create a tech-free morning routine with your kids.
Whether it’s a family breakfast, reading a book together or choosing their clothes before school, each step can help them feel like they’re more grounded.
To learn more about Thriving Kids, watch the full course on the Thrive platform today.