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  • Resilient Practice

Help your Kids to be Happy

Updated: May 31



Happy teenager

"Happiness is a Journey not a Destination"

Buddha


In our teaching this week, several delegates mentioned the importance of passing skills on to our children. During childhood we develop our unique model of the world that is with us throughout our lives. These beliefs are what influence our responses and so impact on our experience. In addition, as children, we learn a set of unconscious go–to responses that we have talked about before, our fear patterns. When these run unchecked we generate negative outcomes for ourselves which feed underlying negative beliefs about self. Although our articles are usually focussed on the Self, this week we would like to explore the opportunities we have to advocate for the children in our lives by helping them understand this process and develop positive core beliefs


Data from the NHS England Mental Health of Children and Young People Surveys shows that:

  • 1 in 5 children and young people aged 8 to 25 is struggling with their mental health.

  • In 8 to 16 year olds, the gender split is equal but in 17 to 25 year olds the rates are twice as high for young women compared to young men.

  • 12.5% of the 17-19 year olds surveyed had an eating disorder.

The cause of this rise in poor mental health in young people is multi-factorial. Childhood and adolescence is a period of great change and a lack of stability can have a big impact. Abuse, bullying, and loneliness directly impacts what we think feel and do, as well as what we believe about ourselves. In addition, an emphasis on the importance of success, achievement and material gain and status in our current value system can be detrimental. Excessive pressures (either internal or external) to achieve and perfectionism are unhealthy. Loss and grief affect our mental health as do other stressful events and worries about the future.


Humans are extremely social creatures and connection is important to good mental health. How we connect has changed hugely in recent years. We live in an age of technological advance and this has had benefits, allowing us to connect with others near and far. This was vital in the Covid pandemic and we are using our website to talk to you! There is, however, growing evidence that social media use is connected to anxiety, depression and increased rates of self-harm in teenagers. Exposure to social media posts of perfectly curated pictures showing the perfect life of others encourages us to compare ourselves, it also promotes judgement and shame – all very negative.


How can we empower and embolden our kids to counteract it all and maintain good mental health?

 

Try this: 


  1. Lead by example. Speak frankly and openly with humour, fostering humility. Be accountable for what we say and do and encourage them to do the same.

  2. Acknowledge that every emotion is acceptable and should be listened to and processed not supressed. Validate their feelings. Rather than say don’t be upset or angry talk about why they feel that way and explore what they can do to mitigate the feeling. Use the C.A.L.M tool

  3. Teach them that “should” and “must” are learned limitations

  4. Teach them that mistakes teach us valuable lessons and reframe failure into a learning opportunity

  5. Teach gratitude

  6. Encourage effort not perfection

  7. Help them to communicate clearly 

  8. Share Mindful experiences such as a walk or a meal where you share what you see, hear, smell, taste and feel.

  9. Encourage a growth mindset

  10. Tell them that not only are you proud of them but that they should be proud of themselves E.g. “I liked that you did xyz, what a great example of xyy.”


For other tools and techniques foster self-awareness and conscious responses have a look at the other articles on the website or try our book:

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