February 2nd-9th is Children’s Mental Health week, with this year’s theme being ‘find your brave’.
I did a bit of internet-delving to find some ways that we can start to support our children’s mental health when we’ve got a sprog as young as Thalia – who will be 2 in 16 days!!! And I wanted to share what I found with fellow parents in the hopes that you’ll find something valuable.
Here are lots of easy ways to support our child’s mental health:
- Children need our time – whether that’s a family dinner at the table every night or time dedicated to hear about their day. Don’t be distracted when they’re talking to you – you’ll need to remember the details of the conversation so that they know you were listening.
- Listen to and respect their feelings – let them know that it’s ok to feel angry or sad.
- Ask questions to keep conversation flowing and show that you are interested. Ask questions even when it doesn’t seem that anything is wrong – you’ll make it easier for them to bring something up.
- Help them to understand that being brave isn’t something that just happens, it comes from the decision to push through something that makes us feel uncomfortable.
- Give space for imperfection – it often takes failure to find courage.
- Encourage activities that push their boundaries and take them out of their comfort zone, adventure and discovery is a huge part of this – any excuse to explore please!!
- Be the example – for everything you do, there’s a pair of eyes watching and wanting to be exactly like you. Talk about your own feelings to show them that it’s OK to talk about theirs.
- Teach them that it’s never too late to change their opinion, response, friends, etc. Experience leads to wisdom, which can lead to a decision no longer feeling right – it’s OK to change your mind!
- Make it a family ritual to each talk about something brave that you have done during the week.
- Emoji charts are a great tool for younger children who don’t yet know how to vocalise their feelings.
- There is no such thing as a ‘minor problem’ – put yourself in their shoes, remember your childhood and how huge everything seemed at the time.
- Help them to find a solution and try to avoid ‘fixing’ it yourself.
I stole the following quote from an article on Hey Sigmund because I thought it was beautiful and it almost made me cry big fat mummy tears…
« They might also believe that courage comes in the way of grand, big gestures, superheroic feats, or actions of dragon slayers. The truth is, our children are slaying their own dragons, every day. They’re heroes, every one of them. The key is helping them realise it so they can use it to push through their edges when they feel small, scared, confused, or unseen. Because one of the most important parts of being brave is knowing that somewhere inside of you, ‘brave’ will be there when you need it, whether you feel it or not. »