January 26, 2023

Mentally Healthy Children…

Yasmine Hammad
Ways to support your child's mental health

           Parenthood is a daily moral gamble. Somedays our stakes are effortlessly won with our children, and other times it comes as earth-shattering to both parties. One thing I know for sure, is being a parent comes with immense love, hopes and dreams for one’s offspring. If you randomly ask any parent, what would their ultimate wish for their children is? The most popular answer you would get is “I want them to be successful and happy”.

          While this is a wonderful answer, parents need to understand that children’s happiness depends greatly on their mental and emotional wellbeing while growing up. In today’s article, I would like to touch down on the importance of cultivating social-emotional wellbeing with their children at home and in the classroom.

          Blossoming Kindness created an acronym CAMEO to help parents and teachers engage children in mental health activities in fun and remarkable ways.  

          Activities like journaling can help children in self-reflecting and improving their social skills.  Another activity is creating a gratitude jar, which has been scientifically proven to be beneficial for our physical and mental health.  Art is a wonderful way for children to illustrate their emotions, self-regulate and also practice mindfulness. Last but not least is play; through play, our children develop social and cognitive skills, while blowing off some steam and expressing emotions.

           Moving the body is a life-long habit that helps in processing emotions, while releasing feel-good endorphins and decreasing cortisol (stress hormone). Exercise in general has been found to be efficient in treating depression and anxiety. Music is another great outlet that helps in boosting self-esteem, decreasing social isolation, and reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety for children and teenagers.

         This is about raising a more conscious generation, equipped with mindfulness tools to express themselves and have creative channels. Studies show that spending quality time in silence or meditation can help the children with:

  • Increased focus, attention, self-control, classroom participation, compassion.
  • Improved academic performance, ability to resolve conflict, overall well-being.
  • Decreased levels of stress, depression, anxiety, disruptive behavior.
  • Being mindful with food, because what the child eats affects their mood and their mood affect their food choices.

            As parents, we need to provide a safe space for children to share their stories and emotions with us. Through a dedicated family time or dinners, take turns in sharing situations, events and how it made you feel. And remember that all emotions are valid, please don’t shame yourself or them by responding negatively to their vulnerability. This is an opportunity to share your family values, guide them in finding productive ways to self-regulate and positively respond in the future.

           Spending time in nature offers a remarkable way for children to develop confidence, bravery and enhanced social-emotional skills. Nature helps reduce anxiety and depression in children and adults in a matter of minutes. Plus it keeps them away from electronics and screens, allowing them to use their creativity and imagination in playing outdoors. An educational philosopher named Charlotte Mason recommends four to six hours a day – if weather allows – for children to be playing outside.  

            Our wish for YOU is to personally practice good self-care and mental health as a parent or teacher before passing on the baton to the children. This way, you will be helping the children through role modelling healthy habits that will shape their choices.  The suggestions under our CAMEO acronym are well researched, curated and scientifically backed up to support you in beautifully carving your cameo with your children.