Being a child isn’t always a carefree procession of games, toys, laughter and frivolity. Sometimes, your child can have really tricky times and inevitably, the likelihood of these times occurring can increase as they get older.
Fortunately, there is a current movement to address and understand the mental health and wellbeing of our children, and there are experts out there who can guide us on how to help our children through difficult time.
At a recent seminar on Mental Health and Children organized by NIPS in Bath on April 17th, Paul Stallard (Professor of Child and Family Mental Health at the University of Bath, and Head of Psychological Services at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust) gave some great advice about promoting positive psychological well-being in our children. He presented 5 ways in which we can help encourage mental health and resilience.
· Talk to them – so simple, but such an important tool. Voice your concerns to the child and allow them to communicate their worries. This will be easier when the child is less distracted – in the car, whilst colouring-in or drawing, before bedtime. If this is difficult for you both, Paul recommends following the ‘SLEEP’ structure. S – stop; L – listen, E – empathize; E – explore (why do you think this is happening, why does it make you feel sad?); P – plan (what shall we do? When shall we talk again?) There does not need to be a definitive solution. For many children, just sharing their worries will make a difference.
· Celebrate their successes – children who are struggling with their psychological wellbeing will often have poor self-esteem. They are unable to see their strengths and only focus on their failings. Parents and carers can help by celebrating their triumphs, no matter how small and by not encouraging comparison with others.
· Encourage the child to have a more positive view of themselves – learning to accept that they will not excel at everything can be a hard lesson to learn. Children going through tough times can have a very negative inner voice, constantly criticizing themselves and being over critical about their abilities. Teaching our children to accept themselves and their own abilities is vital for mental wellbeing. They must be able to forgive themselves their mistakes and weaknesses and learn that no one is perfect.
· Promote a more balanced view of the future – children suffering from poor mental health often have a negative view of the future and believe that failure is inevitable. This outlook needs to be challenged and resilience built to overcome difficult times. Resilience and persistence are key traits that need to be developed for the lifelong mental wellbeing
· Patience – these aids and lessons can take time. Resilience takes a while to develop and it can be a slow process. The over-riding message is that by putting the foundations and building blocks in place early on, can pay dividends in the future.
The current emphasis on ratings and grades in the education system, the pressures put on our children through social media, modern life and life events can all have a negative impact on our children. Learning how to help them cope with tough times is a really important, but difficult part of parenting.
At The Creation Station, we believe that creative activities are also beneficial for promoting wellbeing. For more information about care and creativity https://www.thecreationstation.co.uk/classes/wellbeing-activities-in-care-sector or contact your local leader for more information about bespoke events https://www.thecreationstation.co.uk/classes
If there is not a local leader in your area, why not find out more about starting your own franchise https://www.thecreationstation.co.uk/run-your-own-franchise