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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:Education, Think:Family

Day 2: Be Grateful - Children's Mental Health Week #ChildrensMHW

Gratitude.jpg

Day 2 - Be Grateful

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.

It can be easy to feel other people’s lives are better than our own, especially when we’re bombarded with perfect images on social media. We can get stuck thinking others are more beautiful, have more money and fun, or simply ‘have more’. And children are just as susceptible as adults to this comparison trap. So how can we help them (and ourselves)?

One idea is to bring attention to what’s working well in your/their life by developing gratitude skills. Here are three ways to do this: 

1) Start a gratitude jar

Get children into the habit of writing a short gratitude note when things have gone well, and putting it into a gratitude jar. You can encourage them by modelling the behaviour and doing it yourself (it may boost your mood too!). To help get you started, there’s a 40 second video on our blog. 

2) Write a gratitude journal

Older children may prefer to keep a gratitude journal, noting down the things they appreciate and the things that went well for them each day. It can include the positive moments they witnessed too - perhaps good things that happened to their friends that they want to celebrate and give thanks for. 

3) Have a gratitude conversation

Find a time each day to chat about gratitude. Some parents like to do this before their child goes to sleep, prompting them to talk about what’s gone well that day. Some teachers build the chat into the end-of-school routine, by asking questions like ‘Tell me about someone who’s been kind to you today” or “Tell me about something you feel really thankful for today”.

Building gratitude habits doesn’t mean we diminish, or lack a response to, the struggles and difficult moments that children experience. These moments are really important to talk about too. But, having a time in the day when you focus on the positive can be useful in helping children to keep their thoughts balanced. 

 

If you have a gratitude habit that works for your child, please do share it with us. 

And in case you missed it yesterday, we talked about ways to help your children build their strengths

Tomorrow, you’ll find even more ways to help your child build their wellbeing.