How to support your child’s wellbeing
This article has been written by parenting author and blogger Becky Goddard-Hill.
Supporting a child’s wellbeing is just as, if not more important, than taking care of their physical health.
Just as we teach them to exercise, brush their teeth and eat well we should also work on their emotional literacy, positive thinking and ability to manage their own stress.
It doesn’t have to be complicated or require a therapist and we absolutely don’ t have to wait for things to go wrong before we focus on our children’s emotional health. In fact building their resilience up in advance gives them a layer of protection when times are tricky.
It's good to talk
Checking in with our kids about how they are feeling and how they are coping is a really important and it best done on a regular basis even when everything seems fine on the surface.
Giving them space to talk and explore their feelings ensures they don’t bottle them up inside until they become a big ball of stress and anxiety or they act them out. By talking through worries, we can offer a listening ear, support and reassurance.
‘Name them to tame them’ psychologists say about emotions. Scientists at a University in California did an experiment with tarantulas. People who said how they felt about the tarantula (terrified!) were less fearful and sweaty the next time they saw one than the people who had not said how they felt. Our brains relax when we name feelings and we are able to think more clearly as a result.
A lovely activity to help kids talk about feelings can be found in Collins new book Create Your Own Calm.
Activity - The Feelings game
On a sheet of paper ruler 3 columns down and 10 across then write in these words
- scary | happy | sad
- happy | sad | excited
- strange | confused | embarrassed
- amazed | astonishing | bored
- joyful | shiny | bored
- calm | serene | miserable
- jealous | annoyed | irritated
- proud | ashamed | confused
- worried | anxious | surprised
Cut out each word and fold it in half so the word is hidden then put the papers in a bowl, jar or bag ready for the game.
How to play
Take it in turns to pull a feeling from the jar and then to discuss when you last felt that way or what might make you feel that way in the future.
It makes for some interesting conversations and gets your child used to talking about feelings with you in a relaxed and informal way.
Did you know your brain has something called a ‘negativity bias’? This means that you are more likely to give time and attention to negative things than positive ones and this is just the same for kids.
It’s why they often remember being told off more than praised and it is why problems can seem bigger and more important to them than they actually are.
It is thought that our brains work like this because in prehistoric times if we paid more attention to danger we were more likely to survive!
Well we can work on that with our kids and help them develop more of a positivity bias by asking the right questions such as What are the grateful for today? What went well today? What made them laugh?
Deliberately giving attention to the good things in their life will help your child strengthen neural pathways in positive thinking and looking at things more positively will become a natural response.
Role modelling positive and solution focussed thinking will also greatly impact them. Children generally do what we do far more than what we tell them to do.
There are so many wellbeing boosters you could introduce your kids too. Here are 10 that will definitely increase their feel good chemicals and help them manage any stress better:
Cloud Watching * Yoga * Belly Breathing * Positive Affirmations * Tai Chi* Baking Bread* Aromatherapy* Nature Crafting* Random Acts of Kindness* Journaling*
Why not try a few of these out with your child and see what resonates? It will help them build a tool kit of mood boosters they can bring out whenever the need arises.
Create Your Own Calm
Create your own Calm has 50 calming activities for kids to empower them to manage their emotional wellbeing in fun and creative ways. Giving out children the tools to cope with life stresses builds their resilience and makes them feel mentally strong.
The ability to help themselves to and to look after their emotional health is such an important gift to give our children and one of the most important things a parent can do.
Becky Goddard-Hill is also the author of Create Your Own Calm: Activities to overcome children's worries, anxiety and anger
For ages 6-12
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