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Growing Together: Children's Mental Health Week
Children’s Mental Health Week focuses on the importance of promoting good mental health and wellbeing in children and young people and is run by charity Place2Be.
This year’s theme is GROWING TOGETHER.
“Human beings change and grow – we do it all the time and in many different ways. Physical growth is easy to see as we grow from babies to children, teenagers to adults. But growing emotionally is also an important part of our development.” - Place2Be
Have you ever thought about how you support your child’s emotional development?
As parents, we often focus on the physical aspects like nutrition, hydration, exercise, and sleep. Or perhaps we focus a lot on their future career and formal education. But, what do we do to help our children become resilient?
6 Tips to Support the Mental Health and Wellbeing in Children
- Provide security and safety
- Do not expect perfection
- Model healthy behaviour
- Tell stories
- Encourage everyone to try new things (and share experiences)
- Resist urge to do everything “right”
In more detail…
1. Provide security and safety
a) Let your child know, no matter what happens that you still love them and are there for them.
b) Rethink punishments and consequences: Do not punish in a way that threatens basic human needs e.g. do not force them to stay in their room alone in isolation, do not threaten them by not giving them dinner, do not exclude or separate them from family.
2. Do not expect perfection
a) Perfection is impossible and when a child feels like they cannot meet your expectations, they will feel like a failure most of their childhood. This evolves into adulthood where they are continually frustrated and have a sense of never being good enough.
3. Model healthy behaviour
a) Allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes in a healthy way.
B) Demonstrate that the learning aspects of doing a task is not always about achieving the end result.
4. Tell stories
a) Talk about how your child has grown over the years and all the amazing things they have learnt in the process. Talk about the rewards of staying curious, being patient and being able to learn how to do new things.
5. Encourage everyone to try new things (and share experiences)
a) It is scary to try new things, especially when we get older and forget what it’s like to learn something new.
b) Teach children to be forever learners, and that it’s okay to not be good at something even if you enjoy it.
6. Resist urge to do everything “right”
a) Remember that expression, “If you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all.” How horrible and limiting. For example, some of us enjoy painting, but we are not good at it. Does that mean we have to stop? NO!
5 Signs that You are Adding Pressure
- You criticise more than you praise.
- You compare your child to other children.
- You treat every situation, like it's life-altering.
- You get angry often.
- You control every situation and activity.
- Check in and see if these aspects show up in your day to day.
- How does it feel in your body when you act that way?
- How can you shift your approach?
7 Signs that Children are Stressed
- Trouble with sleeping
- Stomach-ache or headaches
- Daydreaming in school
- Meltdowns for simple reasons
- Appetite changes
- Grades change
- Check in and see if your child is showing signs of stress?
- What does it feel like to you?
- What are your expectations about the situation?
- Is it uncomfortable for you and why?
For urgent help, please see the Place2Be website resources or send a text message to Shout at 8525 for 24/7 support that is free and confidential in the UK.
If you are concerned about your child’s mental health, talk with your GP or a counsellor at your child’s school.
At Home – Next Steps
If things are so-so at home, and you want to do better, take a moment to ground yourself.
- Take a few deep breaths and ask yourself “how am I doing, really?”
- Start naming emotions about how you feel, yourself.
- Ask yourself, “what do I need most right now.”
- Consider, how you can take action to get what you need today.
By practicing, taking care of yourself, you are on the path to teaching your child, how to best take care of themselves. Don’t skip this step!
As you start to look after yourself, focus on your children.
- Take a few deep breaths to centre and calm. Be present.
- Ask yourself, “what is their behaviour like at the moment, is anything off?”
- Reflect, “what is the current topic right now? School, relationships, home life?”
- Deciding next steps:
- How can I be present with them?
- How can I let them know they are safe and secure with me?
- What action can I take to start the conversation about emotions and feelings with my children?
- How can I create more space to just be with my children?
- Do I need support from a professional? Or at least some guidance?
Sometimes, it is a good idea to go back to the physical BASICS!
I know, you’ve heard this before, but I cannot stress enough how “KEY” these 4 points are in keeping our children (and ourselves) balanced and feeling well.
Hydration – Fresh water helps our body to work like it should, even with things we take for granted such as eating, digesting, and eliminating.
Sleep/Rest – Our society is overly focused on productivity plus we are consumed with distractions like TV and social media. We need to prioritise truly restful activities where we can recuperate from everyday stresses.
Nutrition – Remember the food and mood connection? Take a day to check-in on the types of foods your children are eating. Is it impacting them in some way? Energy, digestion, or mood?
Movement – Exercise is like a massage from the inside out. It gets our blood moving to bring nutrients to all corners of our body. Exercise relieves stress by helping us to digest and process our emotions.
Nature – simply put, nature heals. Get into some trees, a garden, or if you live in the city, check out the plant section at a grocery store or visit the pet shop. Get out of your home and see life around you.
Whatever you decide to do… remember to be kind to yourself first.
Parenting in the year 2022 is not a piece of cake and we can use all the help and patience we can get.
All the best to you and your family!
Health and Wellness Coach