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5 Important Mental Health Activities For Kids To Relieve Stress And Anxiety

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November 7, 2022
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This is how parents can use mental health activities for kids to facilitate the best environment to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), at least 1 in 6 children (up to 8 years old) have received a diagnosis which consists of some variation of mental, or developmental disorder.  While that is a wide range of kids and disorders, this also includes issues with stress, anxiety, and depression.

Either way, the number is staggering and we as parents, teachers, or community leaders, need to make sure we are giving children the best tools to oppose and overcome the many troubles they are facing today.

While COVID-19 didn’t do anyone any favors, the pandemic has really run roughshod on children because of the effect it has had on the critical stages of their early development. As such, they now have more stress and anxiety than ever before because many children simply don’t have enough of the linguistic skills, or vocabulary, to appropriately identify the mixed feelings they are experiencing. In turn, the circle of frustration and possible depression only grows due to their inability to effectively communicate their feelings to the adults who surround them.

In order to alleviate some of the frustration, these are some of the mental activities for kids to relieve stress and anxiety we recommend:

Help children name the feeling

This exercise can be long, arduous, and difficult on both child and adult. Imagine what it’s like to feel something and not have the ability to clue anyone around you in on what you are feeling – and doing that in a heightened sense of anger, frustration, and anxiety. With the work, however, comes a really exciting opportunity to learn more about your child, but to also help them learn the appropriate vocabulary to associate with certain feelings. In doing this work, you are giving them the best chance to feel a feeling, know how to name the feeling, and then implement specific strategies to combat that feeling.

Arts and crafts

This is a great opportunity to help children with their feelings, and give them tools to use to help calm them down when they are overwhelmed. Some parents like to make glitter jars to help with breathing and awareness. Other parents are giving their children paint by number charts or sticker charts to help with stress and grounding. Again, this activity takes time and effort, but the results are undeniable. Crafting is very similar to meditation because it forces one to be very present in the here and now. Like meditation, the results produced from crafting can give a child the focus and attention on an object they need so they can relieve the various stressors from earlier in the day or week.

Draw out feelings

No matter how much time and effort a parent puts into the ability to name or identify a feeling with vocabulary, their child may not have the ability to verbalize it effectively. This is completely understandable. Feelings, even for adults, are hard to not only recognize but to pin down with words. An alternative for parents is to ask their children to draw how they feel. Whether it is via a picture of the child themselves, a scene from their favorite show, their favorite character, or whatever their brain interprets as the feeling, this is a great tool to use. Sometimes words just don’t do our feelings enough justice, but art - be it just a color, or an entire scene - can give a good representation of what the feeling is.

Give children a range of feelings via color zones

This is a great tool for kids who can identify their feelings, but just don’t know how or where to place them. You can use 4 zones: Green for happy and good. Blue for sad and down. Yellow for anxious and nervous. Red for angry and frustrated. The more you are able to associate feelings with colors, the more easily your child can start to recognize those feelings as colors too! While they may not know the EXACT feeling they are having, they can give you an idea which is at least representative of the feelings they are experiencing.

Practice deep breathing

This is the practice we most like. No matter what your child is feeling - be it anger, frustration, sadness, or anything in between - they can begin the breath through it. There is actual science behind this method which proves deep breathing can help calm the brain receptors, soothe the nervous system, and allow for a better decision making process within not only a child but adults too! By deep breathing, we can focus our minds on the here and now, and learn how to let go of the stress.

 

 



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