While the researchers have made a point to say that other factors—like genetics—are more indicative of the development of mental disorders, their findings are important because this is something we can proactively improve for our children. We know that kids need a safe, consistent and loving home environment, and we should all work to our best ability to provide that for our kids. But how can we enhance the neighborhood aspect here? Get them into the community. Here are a few suggestions for getting your kids involved in the community and maybe, just maybe, decreasing their risk of developing one of these mental disorders.
1. Volunteer. Volunteering is perhaps the best way to get your kid involved in the community. Not only will volunteering possibly help your child to not develop these disorders, but also research shows that volunteering actually increases happiness. In addition to that, it’s good to show your kid all aspects of your community, especially the lives of those who are less fortunate. A little perspective goes a long way.
2. Community activities. What makes your kid shine? Whether it’s sports, arts, nature or something else, there are endless options for getting your kid involved in community activities that will help him or her shine. Even small towns usually have all-ages shows, community sports, child-friendly group hikes and more. Access to the Internet makes it easier than ever to track down exactly what’s a good fit for your family.
3. Get out and network. I’m hesitant to call it networking because real life isn’t a job fair, but doing some networking on behalf of your family and kid will help you to find a cozy spot in your community. Go to those library reading groups when you have a chance and then introduce yourself to someone after. Do the same thing when you’re at the local farmers market or dog park. Having a kid has made me realize that a lot of families who are out want to meet other families too, but someone has to say the first word. Let that person be you. After a while, it won’t even seem like a thing to introduce yourself and your kid to new people and in doing so, find out about the neighborhood and what’s going on.