Thinking about your children’s mental health may have been on your mind more than ever this past year! What used to be a one-on-one chat between a parent and doctor has become a global conversation.
With all the changes and uncertainties surrounding us, it’s hard not to wonder what kind of impact it’s having on future generations. Sadly, the proportion of children in the UK experiencing a probable mental disorder has increased over the past three years, from one in nine in 2017 to one in six in July 2020. Although we are more aware of mental health issues only 1 in 4 children are accessing mental health services. This is in part due to long waitlists. But your children’s mental health is so important.
So, what can we do about it?
In honour of Children’s Mental Health Week (February 1-7th), we wanted to share some important tips (backed by science) to help parents as they guide their children. Prevention is better than cure after all!
Studies show that giving children adequate time outdoors fills 6 of their most crucial mental health needs. These are sunshine, exercise, problem solving, risk-taking, socialisation and an appreciation of nature. Not to mention, Vitamin D, fresh air and being in green space has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety.
Not sure what to do outdoors? Check out Mud & Bloom. It’s an amazing monthly subscription box for children ages 3-8 that includes seasonal nature crafts, games, and activities. We love how it gets kids excited about going outdoors and sparks their curiosity about the world around them.
Don’t Give Up on Social Interaction
Between the fear of contracting Covid-19 and the closures that are upon is, it can be difficult to get out and socialise. Especially with young children. But there are still things we can do.
Research has found that socially isolated children tend to have lower subsequent educational attainment. They are more likely to be psychologically distressed in adulthood.
But don’t fret! There are still plenty of opportunities for socially distant interaction for your children to enjoy. Happity helps you locate baby and toddler classes that are currently open and operating near you. Read our recent blog from Emily Tredget, Co-founder of Happity, who shares tips on helping young children build social skills during lockdown.
Interacting with family and friends virtually are also a great way for children to have fun, show their personalities and feel loved. All of which provide kids with feel good vibes.
Feed them nutritious food
According to a growing body of research, the types of food that children eat can have a big impact on their mental health. Making simple changes like adding more omega-3 fatty acids, fruits and vegetables has shown to help decrease feelings of depression and lower stress levels.
A surprising 90% of serotonin (happy hormones) are produced in the gut. So, helping your children learn how to eat a balanced diet can have a huge positive effect on their mental health over the long run.
If you’re time strapped or need some inspiration check out Mama Made for their weaning subscription and guides. Each recipe is crafted by nutritionists, hand prepared by chefs and then frozen fresh to lock in valuable nutrients.
If you have older children, Mindful Chef is a great food box that focuses on vegetables rather than carbs, mostly sourced from small farms across the UK. For every meal sold they donate a school meal to a child living in poverty. Over 1 million to donated so far!
Build trust and self esteem
Children’s relationship with their parents sets the foundations of how they interact with, and see the world. We all know that good relationships are built on trust and a key part for children is feeling safe and loved. Basic parenting goes a long way here; feeding, clothing and caring for them, but it also means be consistent, honest and fun!
In addition to the relationship you’re nurturing with your child it’s important to help them build the relationship with themselves. This includes boosting their self-esteem by providing praise and independence, as well as showing them how to develop their own self-esteem.
We love the Happy Confident Me journals, Parent & child courses and the Emotion cards by HappyConfident.com. They have some great articles such as 5 Common mistakes that affect children’s self-esteem.
Look after yourself
While COVID-19 has thrown us adults for a loop this year, children are resilient and live in the moment. So although it’s important that we educate ourselves on how to help them cope, it’s just as important to look after yourself. Being in a strong mental state not only allows you to model good habits that they will pick up, but you’ll be able to enjoy more time together as a happy family.
There is an abundance of communities and apps for mums to connect with and help other mums, we also suggest Nourish. The app is a curated library of on-demand well-being tools across mindfulness, yoga, yoga Nidra and more all tailor-made for mums.
As we all know, every child is different and as a parent you know them best. Find works for you as a family.
If you’re interested in other tips for caring for your kids, check out our guide on teaching kids about climate change. Or, if you want the best for your kid, check out our nursery and bedroom styles for young boys.
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