mental health

Think:Education, Think:Family

Day 3: Be Mindful - Children's Mental Health Week #ChildrensMHW

Mindful.jpg

Day 3: Be Mindful

This week it’s Children’s Mental Health Week (#childrensmhw) and, at ThinkAvellana, we’re sharing simple ways to boost wellbeing in children. We hope parents, grandparents, carers, teachers - and anyone else who cares for children and young people - will find them useful.

Our minds can be very busy, getting pulled into thinking about the past or worrying about the future. Finding ways to focus on what’s happening in the present moment is another way to build your child’s wellbeing. 

Here are three different ways to help children develop their mindfulness skills, which will probably work best if you join in too (especially if it’s younger children involved). 

1) Draw for 10 minutes

Give everyone a pencil and paper, set a timer for 10 minutes, and draw something you can see. Bring your attention to the shapes, colours, and patterns. Look at the object from different angles. Challenge older children to see if they can spot when their mind’s wandering (or wondering!) and bring their attention back to the drawing. This activity isn’t about how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ the drawing is, it’s about whether you can focus on the activity and bring your attention back when it wanders. 

2) Take a bear for a ride

Younger children may enjoy this simple mindfulness technique for bringing attention to their breath. Ask your child to find their favourite small soft toy. Lay flat on the floor and invite them to put the soft toy on their tummy. Set a timer for two minutes, and ask them to watch how the toy moves up and down as they breathe in and out. This simple act of noticing the movement allows your child to remain “in the moment” for more than one moment.

3) Train the “puppy mind”

Older children (and adults) might enjoy watching this video from the Mindfulness In Schools Project. It’s a 10-minute mindfulness practice that uses a fun and playful animation. 

If you’ve got other mindfulness based activities that work for you, your family or school, we’d love to hear about them. Join the wellbeing conversation on our Facebook page

We’ve been sharing other ways to boost wellbeing in children on our blog here

 

Think:Family, Think:Education

Bright Future

                                                                              Illustration: "Bright Future" by Peter Knock

                                                                              Illustration: "Bright Future" by Peter Knock

When I first saw Shawn Achor’s Tedtalk, I knew that something exciting was happening. I stopped everything. I watched it again. I rushed in from my office to show it to my husband. He watched it and at the end, smiled and said ‘Hey, he just said what you’ve been saying for the last few months’. 

And this is what I’ve been saying:

I think we need to start teaching our children about emotional wellness.

Children should know as much about their emotional health as they do their physical health. If you ask a 10 year old what being healthy means, they can tell you: eat five-a-day, exercise, and get plenty of sleep. But what if we ask them what emotional health is? Do they know about that? 

Statistically, in a class of 30 children, 3 will suffer from a diagnosable mental health problem. 

3 is too many. 

So here’s the plan. I’m going to share what I’ve learned from my work as a clinical psychologist, both from the research and from my experiences with children and families. I’ll talk about the useful ways we can teach children about how our brains work, the safe ways to explore about ‘big’ feelings and how we can help them develop emotional intelligence and reduce their risk of mental health problems. If you know of other parents who might be interested in learning this, please let them know about ThinkAvellana too.

But for now, I start my journey by sharing Shawn’s TedTalk with you. He figured out the Happiness = Success equation: the first steps towards a bright future. 

 

Written by Dr Hazel Harrison - Clinical Psychologist