5 Mental Wellness Practices for Kids at Home
Raising children to be happy, healthy, and well-adjusted is a goal for all parents. As we learned from our Meems Monday Interview earlier this week with a creative art therapist and physiotherapist, professional support can be a valuable tool for regular mental maintenance, not just when there is a crisis. We also wanted to provide you with some activities the family can practice at home to help children develop positive habits and useful coping skills. In this article, Meems will explore five easy mental wellness practices that kids can do at home to boost their mood and overall wellbeing.
Mindfulness and Breathing Exercises
Working on being present and using breathing exercises as a tool can help children process their emotions. This type of increased awareness can help calm their minds and regulate their emotions. Encouraging children to take deep breaths, focus on their senses, and practice being present in the moment is a great practice to begin instilling in them at a young age. Make taking deep breaths fun by having your child imagine they are blowing out candles or inflating a balloon. For focusing on their senses, you can ask them to breathe the air in through their nose and out through their mouth, focusing on the movement of the air through their body. This also helps them to be present in the moment.
Get your older kids excited by getting them a new journal they love; you can even find some with prompts. Creating a consistent time and space can be helpful for children to know they will have this outlet. Start small with noting just one or two things they are grateful for each day and be specific about why they are thankful. Noting thoughts and feelings can help kids cultivate a positive mindset and foster feelings of happiness; the glass half full type of mindset. If your child really enjoys this activity, you can suggest setting aside more time to write longer stories to explore their emotions. You might also write a gratitude journal with them and let them see what you wrote down.
Regular exercise can help kids release extra energy, reduce stress, and improve overall health. If you are able to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, it can also contribute to better mental wellness. A family nature hike might be a way for the whole family to get outdoors and see something new. Sports teams can support social skills, foster relationships, and learn healthy competition. Dancing is a great way to elevate kids’ moods and release tension. Formal dance lessons like hip-hop or even just dance parties at home can allow kids to learn about another physical activity that can support mental wellness as well. Mindfulness can be practiced through yoga and families can find kid-focused yoga videos on YouTube that make the activity easy and engaging. In our interview with wellness expert, Jackie Peterson, we learned about the power of taking a simple walk around the neighborhood and how even that can contribute to a better mood.
Through outlets like art, music, design, dance, theater, or even building legos, children can form self-expression. This can be a powerful tool for kids to explore their emotions and express what they might be feeling. Sometimes children don’t have the vocabulary to explain their feelings, but a picture can speak a thousand words. Keeping an easel in a common space with water paints can allow your children to create at any moment they feel inspired. Painting whatever comes to mind (some children even love painting their dreams in the morning) can help kids release stress and express emotions in a nonverbal way.
Maybe your child prefers music and movement to express their emotions. You could allow your child to take over the evening playlist to find music they want to listen to; it might even turn into a great dance party. HealthChildren.org has an article, Music and Mood, which notes that music has the power to contribute to calmer moods and confidence.
Tactile children might enjoy building with playdough or legos, and creating something that is meaningful to them. They also might want to see your reaction to the hard work and that encouragement is enough to boost their mood! Whatever the creative outlet may be, let your child try new activities and provide them with the materials and support to get creative.
Connections with friends, siblings, and caregivers that can model healthy habits can be a key factor in promoting mental wellness for your child. One way to help your child build strong relationships with friends is to participate in sports teams, schedule playdates, and join clubs or activities to meet kids with similar interests. Finding a topic to bond over is a great start to helping your child form a strong relationship. Set a good example by modeling positive social behaviors for your child and let them see the value in forming their own strong friendships. Lastly, encourage your child to always be themselves and let their unique qualities or interests shine, which will help build more authentic relationships.
By incorporating these small mental wellness practices into your family’s daily routines, you can help your child develop habits and skills that will serve them later in their lives. As caregivers, we hold an important role in teaching by example and modeling behavior we want to see in our children. As a mother of four, I realize that it is not always easy to do, but I think the list above is very manageable, even for the busiest kids and parents!