Children’s Mental Health Week 4 – 10 Feb
“HEALTHY: INSIDE & OUT”
H – E – A – L – T – H – Y
It’s Children’s Mental Health Week and this year’s theme is Healthy: Inside and Out. The aim is to encourage children and young people to look after their bodies and minds, as the two are inextricably linked. Over the course of the week we will be exploring this in more detail by attributing each letter in the word “healthy” to a vital component necessary for living a healthy and happy life.
To kick off, we’ll start with the letter “H” and the importance of emotional intelligence in creating future happiness in the life of a child/young adult:
Monday, 4th February
H – Happiness
Parents or carers have many challenges in rearing children not least ensuring they enable their children to become emotionally intelligent about their inner, world experiences: their thoughts, feelings and experiences.
Enabling children to understand their emotions, being able to accept and be content with themselves, learning from mistakes, making the right choices and learning to cope with adversity are integral aspects of helping children to learn, adapt and manage their emotional experiences.
To begin with babies and very young children are dependent on adults being able to tolerate uncertainty. And whether they can soothe the baby and, frankly themselves, so the baby does not become too fragmented, distressed and miserable.
As the child becomes older, friendship groups, socialising and having a more integrated sense of themselves contributes to the child being attuned to themselves and others.
Happiness, at least, one description is having the desire to know and understand our own experiences and that we are sufficiently interested and motivated to learn what and more importantly, who contributes to helping us feel safe and content.
E – Emotions
It is quite common for children to feel overwhelmed by feelings particularly emotions that makes both children and adults feel out of control. Rage, aggression, anger, jealousy, hate, loneliness, sadness, grief and loss etc. Sometimes it’s hard for parents to believe children can feel such depths of emotions and, as a consequence, their children might be left to manage these experiences on their own.
Helping your child to learn how to regulate or manage difficult emotions is parental task. Enabling your child to recognise these emotions is really important as well helping to initially soothe and then when they are calmer to understand their experiences, which might also include manageable strategies to help them cope.
A – Activity
Children should view exercise as fun, shifting attitudes about wanting to do exercise, rather than a chore, or on list of must-dos. It’s important for the parent to encourage this mindset in children from the get-go. The benefits of a child being active cannot be understated.
Being active causes an increase in endorphin levels – the ‘feel good’ hormone. It also:
* Reduces depression
* Reduces feelings of anxiety
* Improves concentration
* Provides a better nights’ sleep
* Boosts self-confidence and self-esteem
* Facilitates a positive outlook
Feb 7th –
L – Being Loved
Being is loved is probably the most potent relational activity particularly if your child positively regards your love and is not emotionally oppositional to you and themselves.
A child, who has internalised feeling safe, wanted and has been given the ‘space’ to become appropriately independent according to their developmental needs is more likely flourish.
Being able to be a good, parental/carer role model is also important. How do you manage your emotions and what are you unwittingly teaching your children particularly managing adversity and being relational?
Loving and learning requires thought, patience and empathy.
Feb 8th –
T – Togetherness
Being with loved ones, bonding with others and feeling a sense of community is vital for a child’s wellbeing.
To be nurtured and encouraged by their tribe enhances the sense of “belonging” for a child or young person. The level of togetherness and ability for a child to bond with others is a direct result of the relationships they experienced in our first 1001 days of life. When children form healthy relationships as babies, they subconsciously carry these experiences into their teenage years as a way to bond with their peers and inform the level of ‘community’ that they’ll enjoy.
Feb 9th –
H – Being Hopeful
Being hopeful is also about realistic positivity and how parents foster hope even when circumstances are challenging.
Hope inspires coping strategies to manage difficulty even if it means having the capacity to believe that things will be better when in the here and now, the individual might be feeling dread and despair.
Being able to recognise when your child has deleted resources to inspire hope within themselves is an observation requiring an immediate but proportionate response.
Feb 10th –
Y – You
It’s important for children to know that they are the master of their own lives. In the end, it really is all about them as an individual, because their happiness affects everyone else around them. Children need to take time to do what’s right for them as an individual first in order to be the best version of themselves for others.
Self-care techniques and general lifestyle changes can help manage symptoms of many mental health problems, as well as help maintain and improve overall well-being. A child may be yelling, ‘I’m too busy to focus on self-care!’ But making time for self-care is very important in managing your overall health – mentally and physically.
Self-care is not a selfish thing to focus on. It’s important for a child/young person to:
- Spend some time alone
- Eat healthy foods
- Limit their screen time
- Get involved with physical activity
Understanding who you are and feeling confident that you will be supported by your family and other important adults. Your parents have a responsibility to ensure you are safe and that you are not overburdened with stress. They should also help you to develop safe friendships and activities and help you when things don’t go to plan.
(Source – Counselling Directory)
Need to talk to someone?
We are here to listen if you or someone you know is needing discreet, professional and compassionate advice. Rafan House is a clinically-governed psychotherapeutic clinic based in Harley Street. We understand that handling life, work, love and loss can be enormously challenging. Rafan House offers specialised and discreet conversations with individuals, families and organisations who are seeking help with the demands of 21st century life.
020 3542 9935