Nov 25 , 2021
'What would we even do if I was giving my child a mental health day?''
This is a common concern for parents considering offering their child a mental health day off from school, or from their regular day-to-day responsibilities.
It's not complicated and doesn't require any preparation or financial investment, so it's good news.
It may seem like a good idea for your child to indulge in screen time all day, but spending a few minutes doing these mental health day activities for kids will make the most of their free time and help them reset emotionally.
Taking time early in the day to share both your expectations with your child and allowing them to choose a few of the activities that follow, will go a long way to getting them on board and working toward calm confidence again.
The following activities have been shown in research to be highly effective at boosting kids' mental health.
During a mental health day, the best thing you can do is connect with your child emotionally and relationally. But how do you do that? As you listen to your child, strive to understand their thoughts and feelings, rather than just listening to respond.
Connecting to young children occurs less through direct conversation and more through play and activities shared together, so be aware of how and when your child usually makes connections with you
- Get moving
Physical activity provides mental health benefits in many ways. The act of moving our bodies allows us to express our emotions as well as relieve stress through the release of endorphins and a decrease in cortisol.
Specifically, aerobic exercise can be as effective as antidepressants and psychotherapies for depression and anxiety, and it's a strategy that your child will be able to use naturally.
You can either choose to participate in an activity together or ask your child to choose one. If necessary, you can give them some control or don't if they are overwhelmed.
A mental health day can also be used as an opportunity to encourage your child to express and work through overwhelming emotions through art. They will be able to express their emotions through art, but art will also help them regulate their emotions and practice mindfulness.
Tip-Lay out a few different art tools for your child to choose from, and set out an inviting surface (a table cloth, tray, etc) for them.
Children's hospitals have incorporated music therapy for a reason. Rest and relaxation are greatly enhanced when music is played. While music can be an effective tool for generating excitement and motivation among kids, it can also be useful in helping them calm their breathing, thoughts, and bodies.
Tip: Spotify has plenty of great music playlists for relaxation.
With an abundance of processed foods and sugary sweets, children's diets these days are quite unhealthy. Including nutrient-dense and unprocessed foods on your child's mental health day may improve their mood and even their future eating habits.
Mood and food are interdependent. Your mood can affect your food choices, and what you eat affects your mood.
Mental health is affected by hundreds of factors. The good news is that food is one of the most controllable risk factors. The food you eat has a direct impact on your health.
A mental health day activity for kids can be incredibly beneficial
Your child's days of new learning, making friends, and simply growing up might seem like pure joy and wonder for you, but mental health professionals know otherwise.
Your child faces a number of stressors every day out in the world, and sometimes it all starts to feel overwhelming. Whether it’s pressure to achieve high academic scores, making it onto a club sports team, or just navigating social conflicts, it all can be overwhelming.
Engaging your child in these mental health day activities for kids will help them to become more of themselves instead of trying to be like everyone else.