CSCP 5 Minute Briefing - Children's Mental Health Week 2022

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CSCP 5 minute briefing

Family - growing together!

We all have mental health, whether we are 2, 10, 16, 47 or 83! As a family – parents, carers, sibling grandparents – we play an important role in teaching children and young people how to understand and manage their feelings.  Positive emotional health not only prevents mental ill health but also allows children to enjoy life, believe in their abilities and cope with life’s ups and downs. As we grow we learn to handle things in a different way – the best way is growing and learning these tings together!

childrens mental health week 2022

What can you do at home?

Find time to talk – as a family or just the two of you – ‘Check in’ with them while you’re doing things together, so they get used to talking about their feelings. Talk about the things you are grateful for, things that you are finding hard, talk about your day, ask their thoughts on things, what they are watching, playing, reading. Encourage them to ask you! Being curious and aware of the things around them helps children learn and to be aware of their thoughts and feelings.

Spend time together – Cook together, talk about your day over meals, read together; make something together, play together - play helps children to be curious, learn new things, solve problems, and express feelings without words. Go for walks - look at things, explore nature together; cycle - exercising regularly lowers rates of depression and anxiety and relieves stress.

Be a role-model – Show how you cope with difficult feelings and look after yourself. Make a present for someone; say something nice; give some time to help someone else. When we are kind to others and give our time and energy to someone else, it is very rewarding and helps children understand empathy.

Top Tips

top tips

 

Need some TOP TIPS about emotional health and how you can help your child ‘Express themselves’? Click here.

 

Teaching Self Help

We all need to find ways to calm and steady ourselves, whatever our age! Those times when we feel anxious, nervous, overwhelmed and too ‘in our head’. We need something to ground ourselves and to help focus on the moment and help to calm.

Low level anxiety can be improved using various self-help tools. It can be hard to get our children to engage with self-help but it is essential if they are going to learn how to regulate their own emotions and come to their own emotional rescue in the future. Finding a way to distract them and get their ‘thinking brains’ working is essential in calming down their emotional response (we can also do this as adults!).

FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN

5-4-3-2-1 Senses - This grounding exercise is a great go-to for kids. All they need for this exercise is their senses! Have them practicing identifying:

  • 5 things you see
  • 4 things you hear
  • 3 things you smell
  • 2 things you can touch
  • 1 thing you can taste

If that is hard for your child at that moment try it with 5 colours they can see, 4 shapes, 3 soft things, 2 people, 1 book.

Be a tree – taking notice and paying attention to the soles of their feet on the ground, what it feels like – is it hard, soft, cold, what is it like for the toes, balls of the feel etc. Focusing on this is a great way to take themselves out of their head where it is all too much.  It can also really help when a child is angry or upset.

Power Hug – Firm pressure is great for grounding your child. Help your child to learn to do this themselves by creating a statement that makes them feel better like ‘I am in control’ or ‘I am safe’.  Your child can then place their left hand on the right shoulder and tap and then place the right hand on the left shoulder and tap…..then squeeze into a hug and say their feel good sentence.

Tap, tap, squeeze, sentence. Tap, tap, squeeze, sentence 😊

FOR OLDER CHILDREN

For children who become easily overwhelmed Mindfulness can offer an easy way to help them get 'back on track'. Mindfulness is a method of introducing relaxation; this can be done together with yourself or on their own when needed. There are many different types of relaxation techniques, that are all designed to help us improve happiness, general behaviour, concentration, and confidence.

7/11 Breathing

  • Breathe in for a count of 7, then breathe out for a count of 11.
  • Continue for 5 - 10 minutes or longer if you can and enjoy the calming effect.

Tips to make the most of the exercise:

Make sure you’re doing deep ‘diaphragmatic breathing’ rather than shallower lung breathing. This means breathing as deep down into your stomach as you can. Your diaphragm should be moving down and pushing your stomach when you take a breath.

If you find it difficult to breathe for the full 7 and 11, then you can reduce it to a 3-5 count. Just make sure that the out-breath is longer than the in-breath.

FOFBOC – It’s time to do some Fofbocing! The letters stand for: Feet On Floor, Body On Chair, and is a great meditation to use when you need a few minutes to ground and become present.

The basic principle is to feel your weight in the chair, then take your attention to your feet and feel the sensations here and tune in to the sensation of weight in the feet, and then legs.  Once you have a clear sense of this weight and the sensations of your lower body you then rest your attention on the breath – in the belly, or the chest. Then sit for a few minutes with this awareness of the body and the breath. It takes 3 minutes to switch from fight-flight to rest-and-digest, so doing this for three minutes after a difficult phone call, or a tussle with the computer or anything that has caused you to feel threatened will help you re-set.

CHILDREN WITH ADDITIONAL NEEDS

All the above activities are adaptable for all children.

Other more sensory activities include the Glitter Jar: Fill a clear jar with water, some glitter, and glycerin or baby oil. A snow globe would be equally great for this activity. Particularly when your child is having a stressful day, ask them to shake up the jar and watch as the glitter settles after swirling chaos. This technique allows for a powerful metaphor that relates the internal state of the mind to a visual object.

Mindful Walks: Stroll through your neighbourhood in silence for a few minutes and have your child pay attention to all the sounds they hear. Then have them report back what they heard. You can also guide them to other sensations such as the breeze through their hair or the crunching of the leaves as they walk. If your child is particularly active, you may ask them to run or skip and notice their increased heartbeat or breath.

Bell Listening Exercise: Ring a bell, either a physical bell or one from an App or online and ask your child to close their eyes and listen to the vibration of the bell. Tell them to raise their hand once the ringing stops and pay attention to any other sounds they hear for about another minute. This is a simple but powerful exercise that shifts one’s attention to the present moment and the surroundings.

There is a section on Cumbria’s Children and young people’s Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Information page which has more information on support for children with additional needs and their emotional wellbeing.

For all the family to try…………..Mindfulness In Challenging Times: Have you ever felt stressed or overwhelmed? If the answer is YES, then you will benefit from watching this YouTube video.

Explore what Mindfulness is and some very simple techniques you can easily weave into everyday life and increase your emotional resilience.

Who can help?

We have developed a pathway to help parent/carers (and young people themselves) understand what they might be seeing and feeling and who can help. 

Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Pathway

pathway

E-School Nurse - E-School Nurses are running twice weekly online health support and advise for parents, carers and professionals, supporting children and young people aged 5-19 years old. 

KOOTH - is an online counselling and emotional well-being service for children and young people, available free at the point of access. Chat and forums - it's safe and anonymous. 

Papyrus UK - Charity for the prevention of young suicide - hopefully they can provide support for parents in dealing with the young person's self-harming and suicidal behaviour and ways.