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Building connections - children's mental health week

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Activity 1 – Connect with others

 

  • Talk to your child about who they feel connected today   this could be focused on the day, week or without a timeframe.

 

  • This can be anyone- or anything, for example, friends, family, pets, even tv or film characters!

 

  • You could make a paperchain to represent all the people your child talked about linking together  This is a good visual representation of the connections your child experiences, and can help your child understand these better too.

 

  • Try not to be surprised if your child feels connected to animals, movie, tv and book characters as well as family and friends. Your child might feel connected to someone who has died. This is okay and can help your child process the concept of death.

 

  • This is also a good way of spending some quality time with your child – working collaboratively for as long as you feel you and your child need.

 

 

Activity 2- Connect with yourself

 

  • Here is an activity you can do to try to connect with yourself. You could also guide your child to do it too, by themselves or at the same time as you.
  • Get a piece of paper, it doesn’t matter what size or shape or colour, and something you can draw with. This can be pen, paper, crayon, chalk etc.

 

  • Notice how you feel as you’re about to start. Can you notice any specific emotions or tensions?

 

  • When you’re ready to start, draw a circle in the middle of the paper. Slowly and without pressing too hard, start drawing another circle around it, keeping as close to the original circle as you can. Keep drawing close concentric circles until you feel you want to stop. Don’t worry if they aren’t perfect circles.

 

  • Once you’ve stopped, notice how you feel now. Do you feel the same, different, did you enjoy the exercise, was it frustrating? Do you have more or less tension than you did before?

 

  • Noticing how you feel can help you understand, and notice, how your child feels, and when you are at your best to help them.

 

  • If you’ve done it at the same time as your child you could talk about what your images look like, what is the same and what is different? How much of the page did you use? What do they look like?

 

 

  • If the only thing this activity has given you is time with your child, then that’s okay! Quality time is important.

 

Explore- ideas   

 

  • Explore ways in which help you and your child talk about how you feel.

 

  • Communicating feelings doesn’t have to be verbal. Your child might prefer drawing how they feel or, listening to music which reflects how they feel. Making time in your day for these activities is important.

 

  • Notice when and where your child expresses how they feel. This might be in the car to school or on an afternoon walk. If you notice this try and allow time for these conversations in those scenarios.

 

  • You could also be exploring how your child likes to communicate. Your child might find it easier to say: “teddy feels angry today”, rather than:  “I feel angry today”.

 

 

  • Being open about how you feel could help too, for example saying to your child: “I feel a little bit sad today because I was too busy to go for my afternoon walk.”

 

  • Hearing adults verbally express their feelings can make it easier for children to start those conversations.

 

Explore- activity

 

  • Children sometimes find it easier to explore and talk about their thoughts and feelings indirectly. This could be through play and drawing, amongst other things.

 

  • This activity allows for drawing and play to be used together to explore thoughts and feelings.

 

  • Start with drawing some figures – people, animals, monsters, magical creatures. Colour them in if your child would like to.

 

  • Then cut them out and stick a loop of paper on the back so they can be put on your fingers.

 

  • Start giving them voices and movements, encouraging your child to voice one or two whilst you do the same. This can be a great way to explore feelings as they are expressed through the puppets, for example: “The puppets feel angry”. Distancing feelings in this way can help talking about them feel less scary.

 

  • If the only thing this activity has given you is time with your child then that’s okay! Quality time is important.

 

 

Share- ideas

  • Sharing your thoughts and feelings with children, and being available for children to share with you can be emotionally and physically draining.

 

  • Self care can help balance your emotional wellbeing and may mean you are more able to have difficult conversations with your children.

 

  • Self care can be something you do with your children, but you may also need to make time for some solo activities.

 

  • Self-care can be anything that helps you feel calmer- running, drawing, a family walk and having a bath can all be self-care.

 

  • Talking about self-care with your children could help them practice it too, for example saying: “I’m having a bath now because it helps me feel calm and that’s important”.

 

Share activity

 

  • Sharing how we feel, as parents and children, is key to our emotional wellbeing.
  • This activity is a fun way for us to connect, explore and share our feelings with each other.

 

  • Start with a pen or pencil, and paper. Any will do.
  • Draw a squiggle and pass the paper over to your child and encourage them to turn it into something.

 

  • Then get them to draw you a squiggle, on the same bit of paper, and repeat until you want to stop.

 

  • Look at the images you’ve made, can they tell you anything about how you’re feeling?