The term “mental health” often has a negative nuance in our society. Many consider it shorthand for someone who is always “unhappy” or “depressed.” This isn’t the case at all. Now more than ever it’s important to regularly check in with your child about their mental state. After all, mental health is like physical health. It doesn’t have to be bad to need improvement, and regular “exercises” can help.

COVID and Our Mental Health

A big aspect of mental health is the influence of the environment on your mind state. Especially the past two years, there has been a lot of negativity in the news and in our daily lives. It is completely normal for your child’s mental AND physical health to have been affected. As life begin to start back up and we’re all focused on getting physically “back into shape,” I challenge you to also consider getting mentally “back into shape.” This is an important conversation that anyone at any age can benefit from. 

I could give you some mental health activities that I’m sure you’ve heard of before. Instead, here are a few questions you and your child can discuss. These can offer a new perspective and focus on mental health.

3 Questions to Ask

— “Why are we exercising and working out?”

If you’ve recently restarted your child’s exercise or sport routine, it may be a good idea to check in on the motive behind this. Are we doing this to look good, or are we celebrating moving our bodies and strengthening them? Are sports something we LOVE to do and we get to see our friends and have fun, or are we doing this because we HAVE to get exercise? I think shifting the motive behind our daily activities has a strong hand in our mental health.

— “Do we have to do this, or do we get to do it?”

I completely understand that many children and teens don’t yet grasp the idea of gratitude, but beginning to shift language is important. There’s not many things that we have to do, but rather things we get to experience to make life more fun. It can start with something simple like you saying “I get to go to the gym tomorrow morning, and I’m excited” instead saying “I have to go tomorrow morning.” It may seem simple to you, but I truly believe children learn from and feed off of your words.

— “Do you want to go clear your head with a walk?”

Maybe your child is frustrated in the middle of their math homework. Usually, you’d push them to power through (which is also an important lesson), but what if you asked them to take a break and walk to clear their mind with you? Mental health is indeed about building strength, but also learning when to be forgiving of yourself and take a break. They may be surprised to hear you say that, but I promise it will offer a new perspective and let them know it’s okay to feel the way they do.

I hope this offers a few ideas on ways you can open communication on mental health with your child. Physical exercise is a great way to improve your mental health, but I also think diving deeper is important.

Have a happy and healthy summer!

By Paytra Gessler, Certified Youth Fitness Trainer, Certified ISSA Fitness Professional

To find out more about our customized in-home fitness programs, contact Bonita at, or call 212-879-1566.