With this week being Children’s Mental Health Week, we would like to provide some resources and tools for supporting the mental well-being of your sons. The safety and well-being of your children is our top priority, and we continue to focus on teaching and embedding strategies within our curriculum, as well as providing opportunities for reflecting upon and building everyone’s mental well-being toolkit.
Talk Openly & Listen – Talking openly and listening with acceptance about challenges and ups and downs is very helpful for children. When they know that it is okay to express themselves and ask for help when they are feeling down, it will allow you to understand their concerns and worries and notice when they need some extra support.
Name it to Tame it – Noticing, naming, accepting and being curious about emotions is resilience and mental health building. When we can name our emotions, it can immediately take their power away, and when we get curious, it can help us understand what we need. Emotions are important messengers; so, it might look like this – “Huh? I feel sad. I wonder why I feel sad? What do I need right now?” Model this with your own emotions and ask children how they are feeling to help them start to get curious about why and what they need. Just accepting all emotions without judgement is a huge comfort for children.
Physical Activity – Physical activity is both empowering and stress reducing. It builds our happy neurotransmitters, and it reduces our stress hormones. Prioritizing and helping your children create their own enjoyable daily movement routine is a lifelong gift. Find things you can do together as a family.
Healthy Eating – What we eat can affect our mood, our brain power, and our energy levels. Sugary and fatty fast foods can have us riding the waves between lethargy, irritation, and anxiety. A diet of lots of fruits, veggies, lean proteins, healthy fats, fermented foods, and whole grains can help stabilize our mood and energy levels while allowing us to access our full brain power.
Fun Time – Finding time to do the things we love is so crucial to our well-being. Activities we lose ourselves in, things we are good at and actions from which we derive a lot of positive energy, are fuel for the soul. Build them in, prioritize them, and put them in the calendar.
Connection – A feeling of belonging and support is crucial for our resilience and mental well-being. In addition, that oxytocin that is released when we have positive interactions with others is one of our “happy hormones”. Have set times of the week where you are spending quality connection time with your children 1-1. Look for ways to help them have regular (daily ideally) connections with friends, even if it means reaching out to other parents to help facilitate.
Goal Setting – As humans, we thrive from setting goals and working toward them. We need both short-term goals (what are my plans this week) and long-term goals (what am I trying to achieve this month/year). Setting that goal is like a challenge; your brain becomes alert and excited. You want the goal to be a little challenging and realistic so that when you achieve it, you feel proud and it builds your self-efficacy. Help your whole family establish one goal they can work on and support each other with it over the next month; choose something you are interested in and excited about working toward. Here are three examples: 1) Learn how to say “Hi” in 20 different languages. 2) Be able to run 5KM without walking. 3) Build a skateboard ramp.
Learning & Building Self-Efficacy – Another human need is to learn. So many of our innate needs are associated with survival – learn and adapt. When we are learning, we are energized and build self-efficacy. What is something the whole family can have some fun learning over the next few months? Here are three ideas: 1) Learn a new language using Duolingo. 2) Learn how to grow vegetables. 3) Learn how to play badminton.
Routine – Novelty is great, but change and uncertainty can create stress. Having a routine can give us an anchor, a sense of security. Certainty creates a reward in our brain. In these disconcerting times, routine is crucial. Work with your children to create a routine to which they look forward. For example – weekdays: daytime is school, 4-5 P.M. exercise (walk or shooting hoops), 5-6 P.M. dinner, 6-6:30 P.M. homework, 6:30 -7:30 P.M. family connection. Have a routine dinner they love each week (e.g., Taco Tuesdays). Make weekend days a combination of routine and free time.
Sleep – Sleep is another human need that dictates mood, energy, and brain power. Explain to them the power and need for sleep and work with them to set their devices aside (out of the room) and get into a healthy routine of getting adequate sleep.
Seek Help. If you are noticing one or more of the following for 2 or more weeks, especially if it is interfering with school or the things they normally enjoy doing, consider seeking help. Reach out to your GP or another medical professional. Early intervention is very helpful. If your child mentions thoughts of self-harm or suicide, seek help immediately. Watch for:
Resource: Noticing Mental Health Concerns in your child: https://smho-smso.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Info-sheet-noticing-concerns.pdf
12 Easy & Fun Mental Health Activities to Try at Home: https://smho-smso.ca/blog/12-easy-and-fun-mental-health-practices-to-try-with-your-children-at-home/
Related Tag: All Boys Private School
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Reaching Out for Help: Websites and Help Lines
If you, your child or someone else you know needs help, here are some options.