This week, we are supporting Children's Mental Health Week! This year’s theme is “My Voice Matters”, and it's a vital reminder that empowering children to express themselves freely and feel heard can have a positive impact on their mental well-being.
Why does self-expression matter?
When children feel their voices are valued, they know they are being heard and listened to. They develop:
- Stronger confidence: Knowing their opinions matter creates a sense self-assurance and encourages them to get involved more with things such as school, home life, or any extra-curricular activities.
- Deeper connection: Feeling heard strengthens bonds with others, creating a sense of belonging and reducing social isolation. You may see a positive change in how children interact with family, friends, teachers, and any other adult in their life.
- Resilience: By expressing their emotions and navigating challenges openly, children build coping mechanisms for future hurdles. Resilience can help children and young manage stress and feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.
How can we amplify their voices?
As adults, it is important that we open the doors of communication for children and young people to feel heard. Here are some handy tips on how we can help:
- Carve out safe spaces: Start regular conversations, free from judgment, where children feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings.
- Active listening matters: Put down your phone, make eye contact, and truly listen to understand what they’ve got to say.
- Ask open-ended questions: Instead of yes/no prompts, encourage detailed responses that spark deeper conversations.
What does self-expression look like?
Self-expression can come in many different shapes and sizes, for both children and adult alike. A few examples could be:
- Unleash creativity: Art, music, writing, drama – encourage exploration through these channels, allowing emotions to flow freely.
- Create storytelling moments: Share family stories, write poems together, or act out scenes – storytelling empowers self-expression.
- Celebrate individuality: Applaud their unique perspectives, hobbies, and talents, developing a sense of self-worth and acceptance.
Strong support networks can also help children feel safe and loved. This can help them bounce back from challenges and build positive feelings about themselves, which are important for good mental health. You can help create this network by:
- Connecting with trusted adults:Help children identify adults they can confide in – teachers, counsellors, or supportive family members.
- Promote peer support:Encourage healthy friendships where children feel comfortable sharing and supporting each other.
- Embrace community resources:Seek out local programs, workshops or extra-curricular activities that provide safe spaces for self-expression and connection.
Remember: Every action counts. A warm hug, a listening ear, or encouraging their creative pursuits – these small gestures show children their voices matter.
Let's use this Children's Mental Health Week to amplify young voices, celebrate their individuality, and empower them to create a world where "My Voice Matters" resonates loud and clear!