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Keya McKenzie, Head of Compliance and Safeguarding Lead, writes about the importance of teaching children that they are ‘enough’.
We’re in the middle of Children’s Mental Health Week 2022 (7-13th Feb 2022), however that does not mean the conversation around children and young people’s mental health should stop hereafter. This year’s theme is about ‘Growing Together’. The focus is on encouraging children, young people and adults to reflect on how they’ve grown as individuals and how they can support one another to grow and develop further.
Children are still in the development stage, so it’s key to remind ourselves that situations we shrug off as minor can impact children 10x more.
The below focuses on the younger audience and the effects of lockdown. However, young people’s mental health and children’s mental health – up to 18 years old – can be triggered by multiple things such as bullying, social media (check out my previous blog), gaming, home life… the list goes on.
Mental health has become more of a prominent talking point since the global pandemic hit, highlighting the importance of keeping the mind healthy during the lockdown and isolation periods that are still ongoing. Children and young people across the world (and adults) saw life as they knew it change. As lockdown hit, remote learning in some areas become the new norm, seeing education shift to an online virtual platform. Some could call it the boom of the zoom (era)!
As we’ve all experienced, the effects of being in a lockdown can take its toll. For children, having those online virtual lessons were some of the only opportunities they had to socialise with their peers, and people other than their household/bubble. We can only imagine it would have been a strange, and at times extremely unnerving, shift in daily life for children to take on without fully understanding what was happening in the world.
This naturally could have caused worries and anxieties within children (as we as adults have experienced). Which is why it is so important to remind them regularly that we are all ‘Growing Together’ and with each other’s support we will come out on the brighter side of what has been, at times, a daunting past 2 years.
If you notice any worries or anxieties creeping up on a child you know, a suggested fictional book to help ease these is ‘No Matter What’ by Debi Gliori. As a child, my mum Claire McKenzie, would often read this to us when she felt our minds needed to rest (sometimes one of us had been in a dispute with a friend at school over whose turn it was to use the glitter gel pens). 20 years on, as an experienced Primary School teacher, I still hear her regularly advising parents/carers of the children she teaches to utilise this book.
Mental health is something so personal. To children, a simple bedtime story book that touches on the theme of being ‘enough’ as an individual to be loved and accepted, can help them to let go of any weight they’ve been carrying. Children are still in the development stage, so it’s key to remind ourselves that situations we shrug off as minor can impact children 10x more. By ‘Growing Together’ and supporting one another, we can help to build the foundations of positive mental health for future generations.
Some resources are below to help start and continue the conversation on Children’s Mental Health;