CHILD MENTAL HEALTH WEEK EXPRESS YOURSELF

This week is Child Mental Health Week and the theme this year is EXPRESS YOURSELF. Take a look at the Website – Children’s Mental Health Week 2021  Its packed ideas, activities and videos for all ages to try at home. Children will be doing online activities in school, and there are ideas for parents to build on this at home. With the stress of lockdown children and young people need this more than ever.

Many families are struggling with the impact of home learning, working from home, feeling cooped up, getting on each other’s nerves, feeling cold, stuck on screen devices for long periods for school or work, dealing with technical problems, missing friends and family…the list is endless.

During the long winter months stresses can build up and we can find ourselves spiralling down into states of anxiety, lacking in motivation, having the same old arguments with our siblings or partners. Expressing ourselves gives us the BOOST that we all need.

When child and young people find CREATIVE WAYS to share their feelings thoughts and ideas it can help them feel good about themselves and feel fully alive. Expression through art, music, writing and poetry, dance and drama, photography and film allows us to discover who we are and to strengthen our identity and self-esteem.

I imagine you may be thinking, ‘I’m exhausted I don’t know where to start!’ Let me guide you and I invite you to follow some of the links.

PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILDREN

  1. Listen to your children. We may feel as parents that we should have all the answers, however, this is simply not realistic. Children mainly need their parents to LISTEN to them. You could play the ‘Squiggle Game’ together. Take it in turns to draw a squiggle, then pass the squiggle to the other person who makes it into something. Watch the video. The Squiggle Game – Children’s Mental Health Week 2021 – YouTube As you do this activity with your child listen to them with all your attention, notice their body language, notice your own body language and hopefully you’ll have some fun.
  2. Keep connected with family and friends. If your child is tired of Zoom calls, try something new. Suggest your child draw a picture or write a letter with stickers and send it to a friend or grandparent. Children love receiving handwritten cards and letters in the post.
  3. Get a cardboard box and make your house with your child. Together you can paint it and decorate it. Think about your family. What makes your family strong? What holds you together? What do you like about each other. Write this on your house. This can help us really value ourselves and our family.
  4. Keep physical. Your children are probably having lots of screen time. After screen time children need to come back into their bodies to regulate their bodies and their emotions. If your child is tired or going out for ‘yet another walk’ try something new. Deep pressure activities are good for regulation. Play a tug of war. Challenge each other to press ups and star jumps, make an obstacle course and alternate between doing it fast and slow. Obstacle Courses – YouTube Get a core ball and practice some exercises. Blow up some balloons, roll up a magazine and use the magazine batons to keep the balloons in the air.
  5. Structure is key. Have a planner on your fridge so your children know what they are doing now and what they are doing next. However, not get too bogged down with structure and rituals – give yourself some leeway as well. We all need something new – so try and think of something new each week eg Take it in turns to be a DJ and dance to some music.

YOUNG PEOPLE

  1. Build up your momentum. Get to bed before midnight and start the day with a run or mindful fast walk. If it’s raining, try a Yoga or dance video. If you start your day with a physical and mindful activity, it sets you up for the rest of the day.
  2. Expand your online bubble. Ask yourself – what is your passion – music, dance, art, sport, singing? There are lots of online tutorials. For example, expressing yourself with art 

“I Express Myself Through…” – virtual sessions on creative expression – Children’s Mental Health Week 2021

  • Think about the pros and cons of the online world. Young people need online contact with friends – Snap chat, Instagram and group chats enable people to support each other. However, it can be devastating when some-one puts something unpleasant on social media. Don’t let it get you down – watch the video’s about how other young people have dealt with online bullying,  Facebook bullying | Childline , building your confidence after online bullying  Building Confidence After Online Bullying | Childline – Bing video.
  • Think about the ‘Focus of Control.’ Get sheet of paper, draw a big circle, then draw a smaller circle inside it. In the big circle write the heading, ‘Out of my control’ and in the smaller circle add the heading ‘In my control.’ Now write down all the things out-side of your control eg not being able to do your exams, having to do course work online, not able to see your friends, not able to go to the beach. Now in the small circle write what is in your control eg to cook your favourite meal, to put on a podcast and go for a walk, to tell some-one what you like and respect about them, to put on a dance video. When we focus on what we can control we feel more EMPOWERED.
  • Self soothe. Make your own soothe bag with something for each of your senses – something you can smell, see, touch taste, and hear. This could include a teddy from your childhood, a pebble from a beach holiday, a photo from a night out. If your mind is racing with anxious thoughts, or if you are lacking in motivation a cold compress can help. Hold a bag of peas against your eyes, hold your breath for 20 seconds, and tip your head forward. It slows down your heart rate and adrenaline and triggers a feeling of calm – a good way to manage your emotions in the moment. Whales do a deep dive when they need to get their brains to work quickly and responsively.

BE KIND YOURSELF

We are in the middle of a global pandemic and we need to be compassionate ourselves and others. During the day give yourself credit for what you are doing. It could be something small like making some-one a drink, listening to your child, holding back when you wanted to shout at some-one, taking a few moments to take some deep breaths, listening to a bird singing, telling some-one what you like about them or doing some star jumps. These little things add up when we acknowledge them to ourselves.