It’s never been more important to look after your Children’s Mental Health
Research from NHS Digital, showed that there had been a 77% increase in the amount of children referred to the NHS for children and young people’s mental health services. With headteachers throughout the UK also reporting a severe increase in less serious mental health cases.
Mental Health is about understanding our thoughts, feelings and emotions, and influences how we think, feel and act. Which can be difficult for young kids.
Mindfulness would encourage us to separate our mind for our thoughts, but how is a child supposed to understand when their thoughts aren’t serving them properly?
5 Fun Ways to Support Your Child's Mental Health
Mental Health is a serious topic, no doubt about it. But as with any other subject, the best way to teach is to make sure your child is having fun while learning.
The STEM Club wanted to bring you five activities that you can do with your children today. These activities will help them to understand what Mental Health is, and how they can help themselves in the future.
The Five Activities are:
- Mindful Colouring
- Grounding Exercises
- Making a Sensory Bottle (Fidget Toys!)
- Small World Play
- Naming & Recognising Emotions
Let’s dive into each one:
Mindful Colouring & Getting Creative
Colouring in has been a favourite for kids for a long, long time.
Colouring in helps to develop fine motor skills - stay between those lines! - as well as helping a child with their speech and comprehension when identifying colours!
But what about the mindfulness benefits of colouring for kids?
Mindfulness and mindful colouring can help children increase their awareness of the world and the present moment through focusing on the colours, design and by taking the time to carefully move from one pattern to the next.
A study from the West of England found that 20 minutes of colouring can even beat 20 minutes of reading for improving mood and reducing levels of anxiety.
Colouring has also been seen to:
- Improve Focus
- Improve Vision
- Improve Sleep
- Relax The Brain
- Induce A Meditative State
Grounding Exercises for Kids
Grounding exercises are designed to help kids when their mind is running away from them.
Grounding can help pull away from flashbacks, unwanted memories, and negative emotions.
Effective Grounding techniques should distract children from what you’re experiencing and refocus on the present moment.
If you believe your child is experiencing unwanted or harmful thoughts, you can bring them back to the present moment in a number of different ways. Try these:
Naming 5 things you can see
Ask your child to name five things they can see right now. You can extend this using a specific category on the five things. You could ask your child to name five colours they can see, five people they can see or five shapes they can see.
A B C around the room
Ask your child if they can see anything in the room beginning with A, then B, then… you get the idea. This one will help your child be in the present, engage with you and get some sneaky alphabet practise in.
This one might sound silly but firm pressure is great for grounding! Many build a little pressure routine to help when their mind is running away with them. A power hug can work wonders. Some like to use an affirmation with this too.
Fidget Toys and Sensory Bottles
Remember fidget spinners? Those little ball bearing toys that shot to fame in 2017?
Fidget spinners were shown to help people who had trouble focusing, as well as those who had nervous energy or anxiousness. There are also claims that a fidget spinner can help calm down people who have neurodivergences, like ADHD and autism.
Fidget toys help with mindfulness providing a welcome distraction from some unwelcome thoughts. Why not try this Fidget Toy Kit.
Make a Sensory Bottle
You could also do something active with your child today by making a sensory bottle!
A sensory bottle is basically a container filled with different material that provides different stimulation every time a child moves it.
There are hundreds of sensory bottles out there - they’re a big deal! - just search ‘sensory bottle’ on YouTube.
At The Stem Club, we’ve made plenty of sensory bottles. And if you don’t have the means to make yourself right now, you could always try our Sensory Fidget Tubes.
Resolve Conflicts with Small World Play
A big source of stress and anxiety for children is unresolved conflict. Children can easily ruminate on past events, which can lead to worrying about the future, if not dealt with properly.
Conflict is a natural part of relationships and so it’s important to teach children how to deal with conflicts as they arise. One way to help with conflict resolution is through small world play.
Small world play uses toys and props to encourage children to use their imaginations to great detailed and playful worlds. Think of your classic doll houses! Things like Sylvanian Families and even Lego can encourage Small World Play.
Small world play encourages children to learn from their peers by sharing information, and injecting their own ideas into the ‘small world’. This doesn’t just help to develop a fun story. Children will often act out their own experiences, helping them to develop more emotional awareness and maturity.
Understand Emotions by Naming Them
Anything that is mentionable, is manageable.
This is a very simple idea, but in order for a child to understand their emotions, they first have to name them. Renowned neuropsychiatrist. Dr Dan Siegel, calls this simple idea ‘mindsight’. Mindsight says that children need the 4S’s, they must be Soothed, Secure, Safe and Seen.
For children to feel ‘seen’, you should help them to recognise when they are feeling a strong emotion as they arise. For example, ‘You look nervous. Have you got butterflies in your tummy?”
Kids will always look to their parents as role models. You should show them the way by recognising your own emotions and talking that through. For example, ‘When I broke that glass, I yelled really loudly. Does that happen to you when you make a mistake and feel angry?’
Finally, it’s always good to recognise emotions that characters in books, TV or movies might be experiencing. “Look at Peppa’s face. She looks sad”.
Mental Health is such an important topic, and will be for years to come. Use these tips to get your children recognising their emotions as early as possible and equip them to deal with Mental Health later in life.
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