Circle Time: Mental Health Awareness
PlanToys Circle Time: Mental Health Awareness
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. We must understand how impactful mental health is on our physical health. It determines how we navigate the world and maintain relationships at work, in school, with the people we love, and most importantly, our relationship with ourselves.
In this Circle Time session, we discuss the importance of mental health and how you can help children recognize and cope with their emotions.
What Is Mental Health?
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It is the way in which we understand our needs, the world around us, relate to situations and the people around us. It affects our ability to think, feel, act and make decisions. When we prioritize our mental health, we are able to live happier, more fulfilled lives while having the tools to manage stressful situations when they arise.
When people prioritize their mental health, they're more likely to meet their goals and reduce health concerns while having a balanced schedule, fruitful relationships, and partake in special interests that bring them joy.
Some of the most important ways we can prioritize our mental health is by maintaining a healthy diet and sleep schedule, exercising, living in a safe and stable environment, and being honest with ourselves and the people closest to us.
Mental Health In Children
Children often have an array of emotions that can change quickly. Many emotions, whether anger or sadness, can often signal an unmet need, such as a yearning for social interaction, nourishment, or tiredness. When we realize this, we can best relate to our children, assure them that their feelings matter, and provide them with coping mechanisms that help them lead happier lives.
Communicate With Children Through Play:
Playtime is crucial to a child's development. It serves as outlet for them to express themselves verbally and physically while also advancing their problem solving skills. It's also a time for adults to connect with children to make memories and strengthen bonds.
Add toys to your child's play routine that promote learning, engagement, and self awareness.
This set includes 24 wooden tiles with 12 different motions. It can be used as a memory game or as an outlet for children to share their emotions. It includes a color wheel to introduce color theory.
This robot introduces children to a range of emotions with interchangeable heads. Its tactile, auditory, and moving components make it a multi-purpose fun toy to grow with children as they develop.
|The Better Aging Collection came out of researching the benefits of stimulating brain functions as we age while considering the power play has on forming close connections and evoking positive emotions.|
Raising Confident Children
When we remain an active participant in our child's interests and activities, they'll feel more confident to express themselves and take on new challenges and stressful situations without self-doubt.
The following guidelines will help children maintain self-confidence and practice emotional wellness as they grow and develop:
- Praise: Allow children to express themselves freely in a safe environment at home or outside. Introduce new games or rotate toys to help them see their toys from another perspective. If they are participating in an activity they're excited about, be inquisitive, ask questions and get to know their thought process. Show interest in what they're passionate about.
- Set Realistic Goals: Set goals that align with a child's abilities. Set larger goals as they advance and acquire new skills.
- Be Honest: Share the failures and life lessons that are appropriate and that your children can relate to. By doing so, children will understand that it's okay to make mistakes and to treat them as a learning experience.
- Avoid Sarcasm: Speak to children clearly when expressing your frustrations and trying to understand theirs. Let them know it is a safe space to express themselves, and if they are not ready to share their thoughts at that moment, they can return to the conversation when they're ready.
- Encourage & Inspire: Rather than encouraging children to do their best, focus more on the process and the importance of social interaction and new experiences.
Develop a Support System
When we surround ourselves with supportive empaths, we build a genuine community of people that have our best interests at heart. When people get to know us on a deeper level it allows us to engage in more conversations and less explanation.
If you're having trouble initiating a conversation, try writing a note or asking a friend for support on approaching the topic.
Validate Your Emotions
Welcome all of your emotions, whether you are happy or sad, your emotions are valid. Try redirecting a negative emotion into something positive by asking yourself why you are feeling this way, and what you can do to move forward.
- Recognize Emotions: Start at the beginning. Teach children what emotions are and how to identify them. Once this has been established, assure them that all feelings are valid and it's okay to experience them.
- Identify The Trigger: Help children understand where their feelings came from. Map out the previous events that occurred before the feelings arose. When we do this, we can help children develop rational thinking and help them realize we don't have full control of the situations around us, but we can try to control how we react to them.
- Validate Feelings: Take a step back and recognize a child's emotion before problem solving. If you are pointing out a child's emotion, do so without judgment, "I noticed your soccer game was canceled. I know you looked forward to this all week, it's okay to be disappointed." If we try to correct a child's emotions this could result in them feeling ashamed to express them
- Share Coping Skills: Share techniques on how you manage your mental health: breathing exercises, practicing gratitude, doing something you enjoy, etc.
- Be Resourceful: Continue to seek mental health resources that your family can benefit from, whether it is outside support, books, or bonding activities. Maintain a mental health schedule that works best for your family.
Below are helpful resources to help you and your family cope with mental health or emotional distress. We encourage you to continue self-educating through trusted sources and speak directly to a medical professional or child expert to suit your family's needs. Below are a few of the sources we looked to when compiling this information:
- Mental Health America: What Every Child Needs For Good Mental Health
- American Psychological Association: How To Help Kids Understand and Manage Their Emotions
- Very Well Mind: The Importance of Mental Health
- National Institute of Mental Health: Caring for Your Mental Health
- Pathway 2 Success: Free Supports and Activities to Help Kids Cope With Challenging Emotions
- Raised Good: 9 Simple Ways to Help Children Handle Their Big Feelings