If I asked you to define a “healthy mind,” what would you say?
Maybe you would give an example of someone who makes “good decisions” and seems to have it all together. Or maybe you would say it is someone who always gives a smile and exudes the love of Jesus when they walk into the room.
While these can be true, many people can be and actually are struggling under the surface.
A huge part of promoting healthy minds is being aware that “healthy” isn’t always something you can see, like a positive behavior or a friendly smile.
So, how are we supposed to help something we can’t see? How are we supposed to help children with things they may be struggling with under the surface?! Let me tell you, it’s not quite as ludicrous as it may sound.
There are many things adults and leaders can do to promote a healthy mindset in children, even without “seeing.” After all, on a spiritual level, that is our foundation — by faith we believe and act, often without seeing and knowing all the answers.
What Can I Do?
In this blog series on Fostering Healthy Minds in Children at Church [tag link], we’ll provide strategies you can use to promote a healthy mindset in children to whom you minister.
Topics we’ll cover include:
- modeling positive behaviors
- giving children opportunities to make decisions
- establishing positive expectations
- creating a sense of belonging
- promoting resilience
- ensuring a safe and healthy environment and tone
- encouraging children to help others
- using and teaching active listening
- incorporating and encouraging physical activity and movement
- asking for children’s input and putting it to use as appropriate
- modeling and discussing healthy coping strategies
- teaching and practicing conflict resolution
That’s a lot! I know it may seem like a tall task to be mindful of all of this while also teaching. I know, I’ve been there! But we’re going to walk through one topic at a time.
Why Is this Worth the Effort?
Why is it important for us to build our knowledge and skills in fostering healthy minds in children at church?
Because children are like sponges. They soak up and learn from every interaction they have.
The more often children have developmentally appropriate experiences that foster and support their mental well-being, the better their foundation for continued growth will be in years to come.
Remember, you may be the only place where some kids will receive this level of acceptance, love, and understanding. For other kids, you may be supplementing the acceptance, love, and understanding they receive in other environments. In either case, what better way to show Jesus than that?
Thank you for taking the time to learn about how to support children’s mental health while engaging them in ministry!
The Fostering Healthy Minds in Children at Church blog series is a part of WMU’s Project HELP: Mental Health initiative to raise awareness about the critical issue of mental health and equip the church to lead and champion mental health initiatives in the church and local communities. Find more great resources at wmu.com/mentalhealth.
Brooklyn Hancock is Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Registered Play Therapist, former Certified School Counselor, and a mom. Her passions are working with children, adolescents, teens, adults, and parents to navigate life’s toughest challenges.
Disclaimer: The information shared on wmu.com is not meant to diagnose or treat a mental health condition. We encourage you to follow up with your health-care provider and seek a mental health professional for individual consultation and care.