First 5 Merced offers mental health tips for parents

First 5 Merced County said National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day is today.

The group said it's an opportunity to recognize children's mental health as an essential part of their healthy development from birth.

In a news release, First 5 Merced offered the following tips to help children grow up confident and well adjusted to succeed in school and in life:

Focus on relationships: Children who feel loved and appreciated grow up to be caring adults. Nurture your child's ability to have healthy relationships by spending quality one-on-one time with him or her.

Build stability with routines: Make an effort to offer a safe and predictable environment for your child at all times. Doing the same activities around the same time each day can provide your child with a sense of comfort and security.

Discipline with love: Children learn by example so remember to discipline your child calmly. Learning to control emotions and respond appropriately when they feel hungry, tired or frustrated can help children develop self-control and become well adjusted adults.

Be a confidence booster: Confident children are better prepared to learn, take on challenges and get along with playmates. Give your child age-appropriate responsibilities, like picking up toys, setting the table or feeding pets.

Learn to cope with feelings: Parents need to be prepared to handle difficult times with their children in order to teach them how to deal with their feelings. If you are anxious, take a minute to calm down and focus on what your child needs. Let your voice, gestures and body language offer reassurance.

Address concerns: If you have concerns about your child's development, talk to your health care provider.

For information about developmental screenings, call First 5 Merced County at (209) 385-7337 or visit www.first5mercedcounty.org and www.first5california.com/parents.