Hello and welcome to our Mental Health and Well-being section of our website. This section of the website will aid to help you support your child during this very strange time we are currently facing. It will shed some light that we are not alone and we are all in this together. On here you will find activities that you can complete with your child, information, support and guidance. Remember the key to this is talking, sharing and mindfulness.
Feel safe, Feel Happy
"When a child feels safe, that child is able to take the risks necessary to be in relationships, to explore, and to try new things. Simply put, feeling safe makes learning possible. By helping children feel safe, we prepare children to learn, not just now, but well into the future."
You can support, aid and guide your child to feel happy and safe which will enable them to explore, challenge themselves and make both academic and emotional learning take place. These simple acticities will enable you to do this.
Music: Music is a fab stress reliever and when we dance it releases chemicals that make us feel happy and a sense of being uplifted. Play some music, have a dance and feel these happy chemicals race around your body. You could play music at certain times of the day such as in the morning over breakfast and getting ready for the day. Here is a link to a Spotify playlist that is filled with some happy, hippy, hoppy tunes to make you feel HAPPY!
We also have put together a 'Feel Happy, Feel Safe' activity grid. Have a go at a few activities during the week. See the link below.
As well as a simple activity sheet for children to write down their thoughts and worries. Over the last few week, we have talked about the feeling of being listened to as well as the freedom to express their worries in a safe and organised way. This could be through the use of a "Worry Doll/ Monster" or simply on a worksheet like below (see link). Additionally the opportunity to talk about moment they feel 'proud' and 'empowered' (see Proud cloud link below).
Feel Safe, Feel Happy
10 mindfulness exercises for both children and adults
1. Visualise your safe place – to feel grounded
Where are your favourite soothing places in nature? You can visit them anytime in your mind. You could write a journey to your calm safe place, describing with all your senses how it feels to be there.
2. Balloon belly breathing – to soothe
Lie down somewhere comfy and imagine there is a balloon in your tummy. As you breathe in, imagine the balloon slowly inflates. As you breathe out, the balloon effortlessly deflates. Children can rest their favourite toy on their tummy and let them go along for a calming ride.
3. Warrior pose – for confidence and concentration
Stand up tall with your feet wide apart. Turn your right toes out and press your left heel away. Bend your right knee deeply, stretch your arms out at shoulder height and make like a surfer. Hang ten for a few relaxed breaths, feeling the strength of your body, then shake out your legs and try it out on the other side. This is a great distractor from worried thoughts.
4. Sound meditation – to fuel curiosity
Snuggle down somewhere safe, close your eyes and listen to all the sounds around you. What can you hear? The clink of coffee cups, snippets of conversation, sounds from nature? Get curious and feel the buzz of life around you.
5. Savour your food – to encourage gratitude
The next time you have your favourite treat, make it a ritual of happiness and thanks. Don’t let a second of pleasure pass you by unnoticed – the scent, how it feels in your hand, against your lips, the flavour on your tongue, the texture as you chew and the sensation as you finally swallow it. Even more delicious when you savour it!
6. Embrace music – to switch up your mood
Harness the mood boosting power of music by making your own playlists – one that helps you feel peaceful, one to help you focus and another to give you a feel-good hit. A good old sing always lifts the spirits, too.
7. Make your mind garden beautiful – to grow happy thoughts
There is a garden in your mind, made by all your thoughts. Thoughts you enjoy plant the seeds for flowers you love. Worries or nasty thoughts plant the seeds for weeds. Now every garden has weeds so it’s not about eliminating unhappy thoughts, but you can choose where you direct the sun and water by nurturing the thoughts that help you feel good. It all comes down to where you place your attention so choose wisely to grow a beautiful mind garden.
8. Legs up the wall – to soften and drop
Grab a blanket and a pillow, take a seat with your side against the wall and enjoy some time out. Roll onto your back, slide your legs up the wall, arrange the pillow under your head and drape the blanket over you for comfort. Now let your body flop and drop, the whole length of your legs held by the wall. There is nothing to be done right now and nowhere else to be.
9. Get creative – to express yourself
Let your feelings out with a spot of art. The choice is yours! You can journal, colour a mandala, make a model from recycling, paint up a storm or make your own animation on Scratch. Enjoy immersing yourself in the act of being creative – no hard work, just fun.
10. Hug it out – to feel connected
Cuddles are like food for the soul, helping us feel safe and calm. Enjoy building your mindfulness muscles by giving a loving hug your full attention. Can you feel your heart beating, wrapped up in care? Tell yourself or your child: you are safe, you are loved, you are held.
Additional Wellbeing activities:
Feel Safe Feel Happy Grid (Part 2)
If you had a go at last weeks Feel Safe, Feel Happy Grid, you will enjoy this weeks. If you didn't manage to have a go, why not have a go at this weeks grid. It is jam packet with activities for our emotional wellbeing. Which is very important! Keeping our minds healthy is as important as keeping our bodies healthy.
Make the Monsters feel better
This is a fab activity to help children think about how if they were to advise someone (The Monster) to feel better if the Monster was to feel sad. This role reverse exercise allows children to indirectly think about strategies that will help the monster feel better, allowing the discussion when the child is feeling that emotion for parents and caregivers to reflect on this activity and get the children thinking about how they made the Monster feel better, therefor helping themselves.
Click on the links below to acess our additional wellbeing activities.
The art of Mindfullness and Self Reflection is also ...
because it is magical!
Developing a routine of self-reflection is beneficial for adults and children alike. Making time for self-reflection and self-awareness activities for children at home and in the classroom helps kids to gain a better understanding of both the world around them and especially themselves.
I love this quote from Jennifer Porter, ‘Reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences, consider multiple possible interpretations, and create meaning.’ A lot goes unnoticed without time for reflection, many opportunities are lost to assimilate what happens into our thought process without it.
If we quieten our minds enough to allow self-reflection we can also grow in our understanding of ourselves and this helps us move towards self- acceptance and self-love which are so very important to our emotional health and well-being.
One idea that is loved by children all ages is a little activity called
"My Jar of..."
Children are encouraged to self refect and think about moments, experences and "things".
It could be "My jar of laughter" or "My jar of joy".
Write, draw or stick words and pictures linked with that jar.
We have attached a range of ready made jars for you to have a go at. Print them out, take your time and add to them. Things might pop up and you might want to add to them as the week goes by. More importantly, enjoy this time talking and thinking.
We have also added Junes wellbeing calendar for you to carry on these small welleing tasks at home.
Mental Heath Awareness Week
Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 is a chance for the UK to focus on mental health.
This year's theme is kindness, with the week running from 18 - 24 May.
The focus on kindness is a response to the coronavirus outbreak, which is having a big impact on people's mental health.
"We want to use Mental Health Awareness Week to celebrate the thousands of acts of kindness that are so important to our mental health. And we want to start a discussion on the kind of society we want to shape as we emerge from this pandemic."
Across Facebook and our website we are going expose that discussion, celebrate those acts of kindness. The importance of Mental Health.
Below are links to activities that you and your family can complete. When looking at the aspect of kindness, we think that kindness starts with 'being kind to ourselves'. Below you will find a 5 day diary, that looks at each part of being kind to yourself.
Day 1: Compliments
Day 2: Forgiveness
Day 3: I am special
Day 4: What went well?
Day 5: Affirmation
As well as a 2020 refection activity that allows you to reflect on 2020 so far and your time in isolation. It allows you to focus on what you are looking foward to and visions of the future. Take a look and enjoy the discussion with your family.
Have you ever told your child to take a deep breath and don't know why we ask them too? Or they take a deep breathe in, but don’t slowly breathe out?
Sometimes, kids may need a little more help to figure out how to properly take a deep breath.
First, let’s review why deep breathing matters.
When you are calm, your body is in what is known as “rest and digest” mode. Your breathing is normal, your muscles are relaxed, and your heart rate is normal. It's how you would be when you’re watching a show and relaxing.
But then suddenly, a dinosaur is chasing you!!
When you experience a stressful event (like an unexpected dinosaur in your living room), your body automatically goes into what is known as “flight, fight or freeze” mode. Your heart rate increases, your stomach stops digestion, and your breathing becomes more shallow.
The goal of calming exercises is to get yourself from “flight, fight or freeze” mode back to “rest and digest” mode. Deep breathing helps get more oxygen into your bloodstream, opening up your capillaries. It has a physical effect on your body to help you calm down and lower stress.
So deep breathing does make a big difference for children. But how can we teach them to take a deep breath properly?
Here are some of my favorite ways to introduce deep breathing! Clink on the links below.
What makes a hero?
Please share this poem with your family, children and loved ones. It is very important during this time to remember that we are all heros in our own ways. This poem lays out the ways we have all helped, and what truly makes a hero!
A printable version is available for you to print and display around your home. Clink on the link below.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is when you use the five senses to engage physically and non-judgmentally with the world around you. When you do a task with mindful awareness, you do it with 100% of your energy and attention.Any activity can be done with a sense of mindfulness, even eating dinner with your family. For example, paying attention to the texture and flavours of the food. You can talk and think about how the food nurtures the body and keeps the body healthy.Practising mindfulness is incredibly empowering for children. It can help them better manage stress and anxiety when it does occur. It helps with self-regulation, promotes positive emotions and self-compassion.
COVID 19 Stories for Children
Here are a selection of stories to explain the current circumstances that we are facing. They are explained in child-friendly language as well as activities to complete as you work through the booklet. You will find the story in a variety of languages so all children have access to the resource.
Social Stories are a social learning tool that’s supports the safe and meaningful exchange of information between parents, school staff and children. Social Stories are "topic" based and are short and meaningful, using child friendly vocabulary. They are supportive and a learning experience that is descriptive, physically, socially and emotionally safe for children.
Here are a selection of Socail Stories that may be useful to use a home.
The Calming Glitter Jar is a great tool for calming down and a fun craft project to do with your child. The Calming Glitter Jar is a proven mindfulness tool and it can help to relax both children and adults of all ages.
Also, the Calming Jar offers a practical way to “meditate” with children. The idea is that your child can learn to use the jar on their own when they are experiencing difficult emotions.
The Calming Jar helps children to:
learn focusing skills,
and figure out that paying attention to their senses helps them regulate emotions.
- Small jar (make sure it will hold liquid tightly)
- Clear glue
- Glitter (any colors you like)
- A few drops of food coloring
- Hot water
- Whisk or a stick
1. Pour glue and hot water (tap water is okay) into the jar and mix with a whisk. The glue gives the liquid a different thickness and makes impressive swirls of glitter.
2. Add some glitter. You can start with 1-2 tablespoons of glitter. I prefer to combine both chunky and finer glitter. For a pink jar I used red hearts, purple, pink and iridescent glitter. Iridescent glitter will give a nice lighter look, so be sure to try it out.
3. Add a drop or two of food coloring to give it more excitement.
4. When everything is blended, put the lid on and give it a good shake so the glitter is dispersed throughout.
5. Then let it cool without the lid.
6. You can secure the lid with super glue.
When you’ve built the jar with the glitter, you can explain the purpose of the jar.
Shake it and tell your child that sometimes our minds are full of thoughts, swirling around like the glitter in the jar.
Sometimes we experience angry thoughts. Sometimes sad thoughts.
Tell them that it’s okay to have strong feelings but that we can calm those thoughts and our bodies as well.
One way to do this is to let your thoughts settle like the glitter in the jar. When our minds are calm it’s easier to work out problems and to talk about whatever it is that is causing us to be upset.
Shake the jar up until the glitter is spinning wildly. Then set it on a table or the floor and calmly watch it with your child until the glitter, and your minds, are all settled down.