The month of May is dedicated to supporting and bringing awareness to mental health. Something we try to instill in our kids is that they are resilient and everyone’s emotions are valid. With the summer months approaching, COVID 19 still being a current issue in our lives, and our daily routines no longer present, it can sometimes be hard for kids to deal with all of their emotions. One thing to instill in your child that they can always express their feelings to an adult that they trust, whether it is their parent or guardian, a teacher or school counselor, or another trusted adult.
During this transitioning time, it is important to maintain a positive environment and a listening ear for our children. It is vital to listen to and validate their feelings and then seek to understand where they are coming from. Happy emotions are easier to deal with, both for children and adults. But there are times where they will feel sad or frustrated emotions too. Children do not yet have the brain capabilities to understand every emotion and feeling they have, where they came from, or how to properly handle them. If we can help them navigate through their feelings, they can learn from those feelings and learn how to handle them in a healthy manner in the future.
To help cultivate a safe space for your children, help your child feel supported by you by encouraging them to open up. Find time in the day just for them, no electronics or other distractions. Encourage them to talk to you about their day. What did they like about their day, what did they dislike? Who did they play with? What did they do? Cheer on the things they tell you they did well. Offer encouraging words. But most importantly, listen to them. This is not a time for correction of the things they tell you. This is a time for them to learn that you are there for them, that you love them, and that the words they say matter to you, that they matter to you. You will be surprised, and entertained, by the things that they will tell you if they feel that you want to hear about it.
There are positive and negative ways to cope with our emotions. Listening to you children tell about their day will give you great insight as to how they cope with their emotions and if there are any areas that you can work on improving together. Then, as those emotions arise that they don’t know how to process, they can feel safe coming to you, allowing you to teach them how to cope with those big emotions.
Try this with your kids; it’s a mental health activity that you can do with your little ones today and periodically throughout each month.
Fold the construction paper in half.
Using a marker, draw half of a heart starting on the folded side of the paper.
Cut on the line you just drew to create a heart.
Inside the heart write: “In my heart, I believe I am…” and then have your child write things all throughout the heart that they believe are true about themselves. Encourage them to write what makes them so wonderful and unique.
Using tape, tape it somewhere where they can read it periodically throughout the day.
You can even make one for them. List things you believe in your heart makes them so wonderful and unique, maybe some things that they wouldn’t have come up with on their own. ❤