Five steps to help with children's wellbeing
In a society where children are feeling more under pressure than ever, helping children with their emotional wellbeing is a concern for many parents and teachers alike. But how can we help?
Clinical psychologist and special guest for BBC Teach's The Growth Mindset and Wellbeing Lesson, Dr Hazel Harrison, has put together five easy steps to promote children's wellbeing - as well as our own.
Step 1. "Be yourself"
Helping children to recognise their character strengths is a great way to build their confidence and appreciate the uniqueness they bring to the world.
By shifting the focus from the things they can’t do to what they can, you emphasise the positive aspects of their character.
Character strengths aren’t dependent on an outcome or a particular achievement; they’re the core virtues that make us who we are.
Encourage children to notice and appreciate their own strengths, and those of others too.
Step 2: "Be grateful"
It can be easy to feel other people’s lives are better than our own, especially when we’re bombarded with perfect images on social media. We can get stuck thinking others are more beautiful, have more money and fun, or simply ‘have more’.
And children are just as susceptible as adults to this comparison trap. So how can we help them (and ourselves)?
One idea is to bring attention to what’s working well in your/their life by developing gratitude skills. To develop these skills, you can use techniques such as starting a gratitude jar, writing a gratitude journal or having a gratitude conversation.
Step 3: "Be mindful"
Our minds can be very busy, getting pulled into thinking about the past or worrying about the future. Finding ways to focus on what’s happening in the present moment is another way to build your child’s wellbeing.
There are different ways to help children develop their mindfulness skills, which will probably work best if you join in too (especially if there are younger children involved).
A way in which you can help develop these skills is drawing for 10 minutes. Set a timer for 10 minutes and challenge the children to draw something they can see.
This activity isn’t about what the drawing looks like, it’s about whether they are able to focus on the activity and bring their attention back when it wanders.
Step 4: "Be kind"
Kindness is a win-win for wellbeing.
The research shows us that when we’re kind to others, we not only boost each recipient’s wellbeing; it tends to have the same effect on our own sense of wellness too.
Being kind can help us connect with others, and our relationships play a crucial role in our mental health and wellbeing in the long term.
There are hundreds of ways children and adults can show kindness every day. And it can be fun to sometimes turn these acts into larger events, to really emphasise their importance and value.
Step 5: "Be resilient"
Being resilient means bouncing back when you encounter challenges, set backs or failures.
We all go through times when we struggle, so building our resilience is crucial to helping us cope.
One way to build resilience in children is to help them develop a growth mindset. This relates to the belief that our abilities and intelligence can develop with practice, feedback and effort.
Children with a growth mindset are more likely to try again when they fail at something, and also to attempt to learn how they can improve.
Dr Hazel Harrison features in a very special BBC Teach live interactive lesson on Thursday, 10th October 2019, aimed at promoting emotional wellbeing and encouraging a growth mindset in primary school pupils aged 7 - 11. Find out more here.