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Help your child express themselves to support their mental health

by Sandra Issar

Parents and carers are encouraged to help their children express themselves and share their thoughts and feelings during Children’s Mental Health Week, from 1 to 7 February.

To mark the start of Children’s Mental Health Week, The Duchess of Cambridge, Patron of Place2Be the children’s mental health charity behind the week, has sent families a message of support:

‘Express yourself’ is the theme for this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week. When children are able to find creative ways to share their feelings, thoughts or ideas it can help them feel good about themselves and who they are and how they see the world.

There are lots of ways children can do this, such as through art, music, writing and poetry, dance and drama, photography and film, and doing activities that they enjoy.

Helping your child express themselves

Here are a few simple ways you can encourage your child to express themselves.

Build on existing interests or passions. Think about what has helped them get through the past year. A love of dancing? baking? drawing? fashion? Encourage your child by noticing their unique interests and praising their efforts.

Trying something new can be a great way to find a new creative outlet. There are lots of online tutorials and video demos that you and your child could be inspired by… could you try out something new together? Or perhaps ask someone you know to share their creative hobbies and give them a go.

Focus on the importance of the process and the way it can make your child feel, rather than the end result. Try not to judge their efforts and remember to give encouragement for trying rather than for doing something well.

Listening carefully can help children feel more comfortable and confident when expressing themselves. Try to minimise distractions and give your child your full attention when you’re spending time together, being aware of your own body language and eye contact. You might want to try summarising what they’ve shared and acknowledging their feelings.

Remember, you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to get creative at home. Recyclable materials or older items you no longer have a use for can provide amazing inspiration, and of course there’s no limit to your imagination!

For ideas to help your children get creative to express themselves visit Children’s Mental Health Week 2021.

Mental Health support

Let your child know that if they are worried about something, they should always talk to an adult they trust. It could be you, someone in your family, a teacher or someone else in their school if they’re attending school during lockdown.

If you’re worried about your child’s mental health you can talk to your GP or someone at your child’s school. There’s also lots of free online help available from support agencies.

Young people in Knowsley aged between 10 and 19 years can access free counselling and wellbeing support with Kooth, the online mental wellbeing community for young people.

The online support is free, safe and anonymous and provides advice on a range of topics. Young people can chat to the friendly Kooth community or speak to a member of the Kooth team.

The Young Minds website has some really useful advice for children and young people and parents/ carers.

Urgent mental health support is available to children and young people from the NHS 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is operated by people locally. Support is free to access anytime on 0800 051 1508.

Cllr Sean Donnelly, Knowsley Council Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the day to day life of our children and young people. With exams cancelled, school moving to online learning for the majority, routines changing and social lives disrupted, it continues to be a really challenging time.

 

“This year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is all about expression – about finding creative ways in which your children can share their thoughts, ideas and feelings to help them feel good about themselves and who they are which is good for their mental health.

 

If you have children or young people who are feeling low or struggling to cope there is a huge range of support and advice for whatever issues they might be facing. Please do encourage anyone who may need help to contact the support agencies.”

For more information about Children’s Mental Health Week and ideas to help your children get creative to express themselves, visit Children’s Mental Health Week 2021.