One of the lovely side effects of the COVID19 pandemic has been the sustained focus and attention on mental well-being. In reality, this needed to happen. With language such as “social distancing,” “lockdown” and “self-isolation” now part of our daily vocabulary, the big risk has been a second wave mental health pandemic.
As a mental health and well-being professional, I couldn’t be happier to see all of the mental health challenges, new podcasts, open discussions and memes popping up but much of this may not be at the right level for our youngsters.
So how can we encourage mental health conversations and improve the mental well-being of our children? The truth is that our children are wonderfully creative and resourceful so as parents, we already have a pre-made toolkit at our disposal.
Here are 3 simple ways to help promote our children’s well-being through creativity.
Explore using the senses – It’s time to eliminate distraction and have some true one-to-one time. Whatever our children love the most, there is always something within it we can utilise in order to build the conversation. Focus in on getting children to really understand their feelings. These questions are great gateway questions to help you explore feelings further.
- How does (baking, surfing, reading, playing tennis etc) make you feel? Do you like it?
- What is that feeling really like? (Can they describe it in more detail?)
- Where else do you get that feeling?
Leverage their imagination – create a state of calm with a guided meditation to set up your child for the day or to ease them into a good night of sleep. You don’t need to be an expert and you don’t need to have a script. All you need is a willingness to play, a little imagination and an intention.
Again, it’s always good to work in with your child’s own loves and create a positive story around it. You might guide your children through a flying visualisation as a bird/butterfly/plane letting the cool breeze blow away any thoughts or feelings that they no longer wish to have or you could guide them to create their very own happy place filled with positive thoughts, feelings and energy. You may even guide them in a swim under the sea and let the water wash away thoughts or feelings that are unhelpful.
Really, as parents, this is a great way to not only help our children but to build our own creativity too!
Give back control using creative modalities such as Neuro-linguistic programming techniques and even hypnotherapy – these sorts of techniques work fantastically with children as they tend to work in well with their well-developed and active imagination. Young people are able to easily respond to suggestion, visualisations, metaphors and other simple tools and are generally more willing to “play.”
As a parent you might play around with controlling their inner voice by getting them to imagine turning down the volume or changing its accent when it says something they don’t like.
You can help them manage their feelings by getting them to identify how they do a feeling (eg anger or calm) and then guide them to change from one to the next.
Of course, if you’re wanting to dive in a bit deeper then working with an expert is imperative but as parents, these are certainly great places to start and can offer some incredible results.