5 Mental Health Activities To Do With Your Children

18 October 2021
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Mental health is important not only in adults but children too. With the pandemic having a drastic impact on secure social environments The importance of mental health awareness has become even more pronounced. Due to being constructed by the 4 walls of their home, kids have had to adapt to their new environment and with that, comes unique mental health struggles. Parents with kids, especially teens, will have to navigate a path through which they can forge healthy mental health habits among their children, in the world of increased digital dependence and social media.

From talking about feelings to thought testing and more- here are some activities you can do to keep your children's mental health in check.

Exercising Daily - Exercise or daily physical activity can dramatically help with your kid’s mental health struggles. As world mental health day approaches, one can often see the benefits of engaging in a physically intense activity daily, and they work! Even a short 10-minute walk can have dramatic results on your child’s anxiety levels. Enrolling your child in sports, especially team sports can help them with their social skills, and daily interactions with peers can help foster healthy interpersonal relationships. Encouraging your kids to get off the couch, and shut off their phones and, get on the ground can have far-reaching benefits. Sports and games do not essentially need to be competitive, a ride on the bike, a tennis lesson in the afternoon, or even a game of table tennis with their friends can dramatically help with their mental health.

Mindful Coloring - Yes, you heard that right! Coloring is a therapeutic activity for kids that helps them de-stress and melt away their intruding thoughts. Coloring has been shown to have a positive impact on your child’s mental health as they focus their energy on this activity. It helps them re-program their thoughts and organize them in a way that allows them to approach them in a healthier way. Coloring for teens is a great way to keep their anxiety in check and help them calm down after an especially stressful day at school. It helps them redirect their adrenaline to a more focused activity which proves to be cathartic for them. The importance of mental health for kids has become more and more pronounced with every passing day with the overwhelming dependence on screens for daily activities, so coloring is a great off-screen activity for your kids to help them improve their mental health.

Feeling Stick Activity - Parents realize why mental health is important for kids but quite puzzled regarding the creation of a positive mental health atmosphere at home. While every child is unique, an activity that works every time is the Feeling Stick activity. This activity involves the entire family so be sure to include your partner in this as well. Assign an object in your house as the feeling stick, and the activity is that whoever holds the feeling stick has to talk about one positive and negative that happened to them, their feelings about it, and how they decide to correct the negative feeling and enhance the positive feeling. Make sure you create an environment of positivity and security so that your kid finds it comfortable to share their struggles. Make sure that when you share your story, you are clearly expressing your feelings about the event, so that your child understands what the activity is. When your child is sharing their feelings, be sure not to interrupt them, or dismiss them. Lend a listening ear, and acknowledge their feelings regarding the same. This will help them realize the importance of mental health and that, conversations regarding the same are not limited to a school setting or world mental health day, but every day!

Thought Testing - Thought testing is a great way for kids and adults alike to analyse a situation carefully and re-evaluate our thoughts regarding the same. Oftentimes than not, kids are exceedingly stressed about an exam or social event, and attach their self-worth to the outcomes of those events. This is an unhealthy mental health practice, where their self-esteem or worth is changed to one event or result. This can really impact their self-worth and personality as they might replicate this pattern in other scenarios as well. A great way to re-program their thoughts is using the thought testing method. In this method, you present a stressful scenario to your kids and ask them to describe the situation, their feelings about the situation, how much they believe in their thoughts about the situation, an alternative path to handling the situation, etc. Initially designed by Beck, this activity is a great exercise in perspective building in kids and is a competent step to making them realize the importance of mental health.

Gratitude Journal - Maintaining a gratitude journal is a great way for your kids to pause and be present in the moment. Informational overload is a grim problem with increased dependence on the internet, and due to the constant input of information and feedback on the screens, kids can become quite overwhelmed during the day which lays the groundwork for future problems with anxiety and depression. Take time out from your kid’s daily routine, ideally, in the beginning, or the end, where you talk about 5 things they are grateful for every day. This is a great mental health exercise that helps identify the positive elements in one’s environment and helps regroup our thoughts away from the constant input of negative stimuli. Participate in this activity with them so that they have a great role model to encourage them to appreciate the little things in life!

World Mental Health Day is celebrated on the 10th of October every year, but mental health is a sensitive and important conversation that parents need to be having with their kids on a daily basis. Acknowledge your kid’s unique mental health struggles and create a positive and secure environment at home, so you and your child have a healthy and loving relationship!

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