Hi Everyone! So, we have finally got dreary January out of the way. I don’t think anyone really likes January, I mean even the word ‘January’ sounds like it can’t be bothered either ha ha! Anyway, I hope last month’s blog helped you with planning your year or at least gave you a few ideas for you to use to help make things a little easier. Look on the positive side, it’s getting closer to spring which means longer, brighter and hopefully warmer days, which helps make us all feel better!
As some of you may or may not be aware, the first week of February is Children’s Mental Health awareness week. As a mum of three, who has battled post-natal depression and has relatives and friends who live with depression this is an area that is very close to my heart. I sadly, have seen the consequences of how someone’s mental health can impact their own and others’ lives and it is devastating for all. This is why I feel it is so important to look after our children’s mental health and to help guide them and provide them with tools that will help them later in life!
Now I am certainly no expert in children’s mental health but I have done my research into what can help a child’s well-being and mental health when setting up my business, I’m A Mini. The importance of learning through play has long been an important aspect to a child’s development. This is why when I had my idea for my children’s activity boxes, I wanted them to be related with either a hobby or a job, therefore giving the child the opportunity for role play. There are 5 areas that are key to a child’s development: language and communication skills, imagination and creativity, social and emotional skills, physical development and cognitive skills (thinking, learning and problem solving). It does not matter how quickly they develop as long as the opportunities are there for them to do so, it’s not a race its just a journey.
When creating my activity boxes for children I try to ensure that I cover all of these areas within each box to provide all children with the opportunity to learn but also to play and just have fun!
Language and communication skills
Within each of my boxes children have the opportunity to write their own stories, learn new vocabulary related to the particular theme of the box for example in my Mini Doctor box they get learn some language relating to hospitals etc and so by being familiar with language can help reduce anxiety if they are ever in that particular environment. By becoming familiar with different words it helps broaden their horizons and allows them to explore new worlds and gain a better understanding.
Imagination and creativity
My boxes include many activities which require children to use their imagination whether that be writing a story, making a space helmet, designing their own football kit or playing doctors in their own mini hospital! By allowing a child’s imagination to run free it increases their creativity, helps with language development and lets them express both positive and negative feelings and gain a better understanding of them.
We all know physical activity is good for both our body and our brain, the key is making it enjoyable! Now, I don’t about you but exercise for me has to be something I enjoy – you won’t find me in the gym on a treadmill – it’s just not me – you are more likely to find me in Zumba class having a proper good dance to some great music! If you enjoy it, you are more likely to continue to do it! It’s exactly the same for children, their physical development is important but you have to make it fun for them. Getting outdoors is key, which is why I try to include some form of outdoor activity in most of my boxes. It is proven that Vitamin D helps to improve moods, being outdoors helps release any built up energy or anxiety and our senses have a physiological response therefore reducing stress. There is so much information infiltrating our lives nowadays and it can become overwhelming even for children and so they need that release. Go to the park, a bike ride or just play in the garden and let their imaginations run free – no doubt your garden will have become a crocodile infested swamp or a jungle where the big scary monster is chasing you, or you might just be going on a bear hunt!! I know I’m not the only parent who has done all of these! Much more fun than gym, right? - oh and it’s free!
Social and emotional skills
Roleplay can be an insight into how a child may be feeling. It can be a way in which they express their own emotions through characters they are playing. By playing different characters it also allows them to learn about relationships and also how to manage their feelings when faced with certain situations. Playing with others in pretend play can also help build their own confidence and self-esteem and learn new skills in how to play with others e.g. sharing. It can also help with teaching them how to treat others, to be kind, to play fairly and to understand others feelings. The world is very different from when I was a kid, especially with the fast development of social media which can be a positive platform but also very negative. It is important for our children to understand that real people are interacting on social media and so should be treated the same as they would treat their friends on the playground, to be kind and play fairly. However, they also unfortunately need to be made aware of the dangers and that only comes through educating them on the risks and the importance of speaking up about them.
Let them ask questions, solve problems, be curious. The more a child has to figure things out for themselves the more confident they become. Some of the activities included in my activity boxes require kids to maybe predict what may happen, find answers to questions, figure out answers to puzzles etc. By giving them the opportunity to think for themselves, to get it wrong or to get right all helps with managing their feelings and building their self-esteem.
All of these areas of child development help strengthen a child’s mental health. By providing an environment where kids can play freely it can reduce children’s stress, support imagination and creativity and allow them to learn about themselves, other people the environment and the world around them.
All children learn differently and if you can provide a variety of ways for a child to learn then they will flourish. Through play you can provide children with the opportunity to be different characters. This allows them a sense of freedom to experiment with social and emotional roles of life, develop empathy and learn how the world works in a safe environment. As a result, children develop confidence and self-esteem.
That does not mean you have to make sure they have an activity to every minute of the day, let them be bored, that is when imagination comes to life!
As a society things are changing towards understanding mental health and to know that it is just as important as our physical health. There is much more information for us than there used to be and so as parents we can use this to help our own understanding about mental health like we have with physical health, we can help our children prepare for life in the future and provide them with the tools to deal with life’s challenges. We can’t cure mental health issues but with knowledge hopefully we can help provide our children with the tools to manage their own mental health and to know that talking to someone when they may be struggling is the best thing they can do.
"The things that make me different are the things that make me, ME” – Piglet
“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” – Christopher Robin
As parents we worry about everything when it comes to our kids and we have so many pressures from the outside world, telling us this, that and the other – it can get rather overwhelming at times. Having knowledge and better understanding about how we can support our children with their mental health is great but sometimes it can get too much, which is when I think good old fashioned common sense comes into play (which unfortunately is not quite so common anymore) I know that I question myself all the time, whether I am doing the right thing when it comes to my kids and I know I’m not the only one. Ultimately, all any of us want is for our kids to be happy and all we can do is provide them with love, opportunities, encouragement and support and do you know what I think they will be okay.
Let them know its okay to not feel okay.
Let them know its okay to talk honestly about how they feel.
Let them know that you’ll be always there to listen, no matter what.
No one said life was going to be easy, but if we give our children the tools to help them cope then they will get through life’s challenges.
Love Rebecca x
If you wish to find out more information on children’s mental health or would like to get involved then please visit:
For other support regarding your child’s mental health you can visit:
Tagged in Parenting