For the most part, our kids are resilient little souls but just like us they have good and bad days just like us, they worry and just like us, they may need a little boost sometimes! Now I don't claim to be an expert when it comes to children’s mental health but I’ve compiled a list of those resources which I’ve found useful at home and in my experience as a teacher.
Number one on my list is fresh air! I'm a big believer in getting outdoors no matter the weather and we often underestimate the power of a simple walk but it really can work wonders! And it’s not just the fresh air which benefits us but the act of movement too! So wrap up warm and get outside!
There's tonnes of books out there providing great conversation starters, encouraging children to explore their feelings, giving them the vocabulary required to talk about their emotions and letting them know it’s ok to feel the full range of them. I particularly like The Colour Monster, What are Feelings?, In My Heart, Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) and All About Feelings (Usborne). The film, Inside Out, also tackles the subject of emotions in a beautiful and imaginative way which is very easy for children to understand and relate to.
Toys with emotions on are a great way to encourage kids to talk about their own feelings. Take a look at Emotistones from Imagistones. Mindful Kin has some lovely products for sparking conversations and for older children, you could try journaling - The Happy Self Journal is brilliant. I also love The Freckled Penguin’s beautiful ‘Emotions & Feelings’ print – perfect for popping up in your child’s bedroom or playroom.
If you find your little one worrying a lot, I recently discovered the Worry Eater range of cuddly companions, which act as a waste bin for worries. Children simply write or draw their troubles on a piece of paper and feed them into the zip mouth of the Worry Eater (available from Afteralice.co.uk). Of course, it’s not a cure all solution but you’ll be amazed at how much a simple symbolic act like this can help ease their minds.
When it comes to bedtime, it’s not unusual for children to feel scared and anxious. For all their fears and worries to suddenly come flooding to the surface meaning they find it hard to sleep. Try investing in a weighted blanket. These special blankets are designed to evenly distribute the feeling of deep-pressure touch across the body, which in turn releases serotonin and creates an overall feeling of calm. In short, they are like a great big hug.
Of course, I couldn’t talk about mental health and not mention play! Enabling our children to lose themselves in play can be a huge help! Not only taking their minds off of whatever might be bothering them, but bringing them joy, and allowing them to connect with others. So if in doubt, play it out!
Click here for our affirmation wristbands for you to download, print out and cut out for the kids too choose to wear and then if you wish, write your own to wear at home. Great for those days when your little ones need a little boost!
Finally, as I said, I’m not an expert but somebody who is and of whom I’m a big, big fan, is Natalie Costa from Power Thoughts. Through her work, speaker, coach and author, Natalie, empowers children to develop a growth mindset, regulating their thoughts and emotions, and tapping in to the power of their minds, to help instil a confident, resilient, and robust ‘can-do’ attitude which enables them to flourish.