Children's Mental Health Week : Day 1

Children's Mental Health Week begins today, so we thought we'd ask Dr Hazel Harrison, the creator of Unmind's 'Positive Parenting', for some tips to help boost wellbeing in children.

Many of us know how to look after our physical health - teeth brushing, healthy eating, getting good sleep and exercising - but we may be less familiar with the proactive steps we can take to help look after our mental health. Over the next five days, we'll look at some evidence-based tips, taken from the Positive Psychology toolkit, which any parent, grandparent, carer, teacher - or anyone else who cares for children and young people - should find useful. Let's get started!

Day 1 - Be Yourself

Helping children to recognise their character strengths is a great way to build their confidence and appreciate the uniqueness they bring to the world.

By shifting the focus from the things they can’t do to what they can, you emphasise the positive aspects of their character. Character strengths aren’t dependant on an outcome, a grade or a particular achievement; they’re the core virtues that make us who we are.

There are many ways you can encourage children to notice and appreciate their own strengths, and those of others too. Here are just three:  

1. Spot strengths

If you’re one of the people spending time with a child (a parent, friend, teacher, or example), start noticing and naming the strengths you see them display. So, say things like: “You really showed your strength of patience today while we waited at the supermarket” and “I noticed how you were working together in your football practice today; great teamwork!”

2. Take the VIA strengths survey

You may want to support children over 10 by getting them to take the Youth VIA strengths online survey(which is free). By answering a series of questions, the child discovers their strongest character strengths. To emphasise their top 5 strengths, write them down and make sure your child can see them every day.  

3. Find a character role model

There are so many fantastic stories and films depicting character strengths. Talk with your child about the strengths on display and see if they want to try emulating the role model in real life. If they do, use the “spot strengths” technique to praise them for working hard on the trait.

We hope you have fun celebrating your child’s uniqueness. Tomorrow, you’ll find even more ways to help your child build their wellbeing.

You can find out more about Dr Hazel Harrison and the initial campaign we're sharing again over the coming week on her website.

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