Express Yourself

IMG_20210204_232217.jpgThis week is Children’s Mental Health week and this year’s theme is all about ‘expressing yourself’ – finding ways to share your children’s feelings, thoughts, or ideas plus doing activities that make them feel good! It’s not about being the best but more about finding ways to show them who they are and what makes them tick.

I spend a lot of time at work writing articles about wellbeing and being a little passionate about the subject, I’m spreading the word by sharing some tips and tricks for better wellbeing as a new feature on my blog.

I have two little ones – Alfie aged 7, Betsy-Ann aged 3 and although my two are young, hopefully my tips below are useful for children of all ages.

Here goes…

Help them be themselves
Recognise what your child’s good at and tell them as often as possible.
Alfie’s definitely not the best at sport – bless him he tries! However, he’s kind, willing to learn and generally a good boy. He’s also good at telling jokes 🙂 Taking the time to remind him what he’s good at makes him feel more confident and helps him appreciate his character plus his ‘uniqueness’.

Remind them about what’s good in life
It’s really easy to think that other people’s lives are better than our own, especially if you scroll through your home feed on social media – such as thinking others are more beautiful, have more fun, money or just ‘have more’. Children are just as susceptible as us to this comparison trap. So how can we help them (and ourselves)?

One idea is to look at what’s working well in your/their life by developing gratitude skills. Why not start a gratitude jar of all the things your grateful for at the moment. Such as having more family time, spending more time at home or getting outside more! Or perhaps just have a brew and a chat about what’s good about life at the moment. Just be sure to concentrate on the positives…

Be mindful
Our minds can be very busy at the moment, thinking about the past or worrying about the future. Finding ways to focus on what’s happening right now is another way to build your child’s wellbeing.

There’s lots of ways you help children develop mindfulness skills – take a look at these 10 Mindfulness Exercises from the BBC.

Alfie loves creating playlists and playing his favourite happy tracks to switch up his mood – Betsy on the other hand loves this drawing exercise: Set a timer for 10 minutes and challenge children to draw something they can see. This activity isn’t about what the drawing looks like (thank goodness), it’s about whether they are able to focus on the activity and bring their attention back when it wanders…

Being Kind is a win, win for wellbeing
Research shows that when we’re kind to others, we not only boost the other person’s wellbeing but ours too. Being kind can help us connect with others, and our relationships play a crucial role in our mental health and wellbeing long term.

There are hundreds of ways children and adults can show kindness every day and it can be fun too!

I’m lucky that Alfie is blessed with kindness – it comes naturally but encouraging him and Betsy to do more such as writing little thank you notes (even in daddy’s work lunch box), calling and speaking to grandparents and even helping me to take food parcels next door to my elderly neighbour helps us all feel good inside.

Acts of kindness rock!

Build resilience
We’re all going through struggling times, so building both our children’s and our own resilience is crucial to helping us cope. One way to build resilience in children is to help them develop a growth mindset. Help them to try again at something that they may not have been good at or given up on after a first attempt. Get them to see this as a challenge and help them to improve.

Research shows that children with a growth mindset are more likely to try again when they fail at something, and also to attempt to learn how they can improve.

So if it’s singing, dancing, maths, writing or even riding a bike – help them to improve and set them a challenge to get better plus reward them for doing so.

Get active
Regular physical activity helps your child develop in a range of ways – not only does it help their physical health, but it also helps improve brain function and emotional wellbeing.

Alfie enjoys being outdoors, so we try and get out for a scoot and run together every day – weather permitting of course. Sometimes it’s hard to get him motivated but once we’re out he’s happy, relaxed and we are both enjoying some fresh air, a change of scenery plus having fun!

Mental health problems affect one in four of us and can affect anyone, at any time. For Information, support and resources about children’s mental health take a look at the Healthy Surrey website for children, young people and parents.