Events such as R U OK? Day, remind us to be aware of each other’s mental health and wellbeing. While experiencing social and emotional difficulties is a natural part of growing up for children, sometimes symptoms display for an extended period of time or begin to interfere with everyday life, indicating more serious mental health concerns.
A healthy dose of confidence is vital to a child’s social and emotional development. A positive sense of self-worth is also critical to learning and academic success.
Confident people are usually authentic and express themselves and their opinions freely when the situation warrants it. Confidence generally leads to a happy and fulfilling life which is what we ultimately seek for our children. A lack of confidence can be symptomatic of anxiety and depression and so needs to be managed carefully.
For the most part, parents will instinctively know when their child is too sick for school. But there are always grey areas and scenarios which may cause you to question your judgement.
In the first instance, parents need to consider if their child could be contagious. You will also need to ensure he is well enough to participate in a full day of school activities and that a teacher will be able to provide the care he requires without impacting the rest of the class. Sometimes it can be hard to know how to tell if your child is too sick for school.
‘Mindfulness’ is a concept that is becoming increasingly popular particularly with educators and employers.
Mindfulness, the act of maintaining a present moment of awareness through means such as meditation, breathing or relaxation, is certainly not a new psychological phenomenon.
It has, however, been given a lot of weight by schools that are focused more than ever on health, wellbeing and educating ‘the whole student’. For Christians, mindfulness also allows us to better use our space and time to be quiet in the presence of God in prayer.
According to the Australian Government’s Mental Health of Children and Adolescents Report, in the 12 months prior to the survey around one in seven children and adolescents aged four to 17 years experienced a mental disorder. This is equivalent to an estimated 560,000 Australian children and adolescents. The report found the prevalence of mental disorders varied considerably between males and females, with 16 percent of males and 12 percent of females having had a mental disorder in the previous 12 months.
Talking about mental health and wellbeing with children isn’t always easy, but it is important so they understand what mental health is, how to maintain it and what to do if it goes wrong.
Suniya Luthar, a psychology professor at Columbia University, has done extensive studies on the role of extracurricular activities in children’s lives. She says, “It’s good for kids to be scheduled. It’s good for them to have musical activities, sports or other things organised and supervised by an adult.” Outside activities make a child well-rounded. Not to mention it provides them with skills such as playing music or speaking another language which have been shown to improve learning in general. Sporting activities can help to keep children healthy both physically and mentally.
In 2015, the ABC’s news program, Behind the News (BTN) conducted the biggest survey of children’s mental health in history. It was called the Happiness Survey and 20,000 kids responded. The survey was designed to find out the kinds of things that affect children – what makes them happy, and what makes them sad or worried. The results from the 2017 Happiness Survey are in and once again it offers some surprising insights into what makes kids tick.
This time 47,000 Australian children, aged between six and 18, responded to questions on issues such as being different, bullying, arguments, family, friendships, schoolwork, world problems, body image, their future and health.
The ABC’s Behind the News latest ‘Happiness Survey’ of almost 47,000 children, has found that having a good night’s sleep is a key indicator of your son’s wellbeing. Sleep and wellbeing go hand-in-hand – children who regularly have the recommended amount of sleep each night reported significantly higher levels of both happiness and feelings of safety.
Sleep experts say teenagers today are sleeping less than they ever have. This is a worry, particularly because there is a link between sleep deprivation and accidents, obesity and cardiovascular disease in later life.
Parental guidance is vital to a child’s development. During the formative years, we often say ‘no’ to our children to keep them safe and teach them about relationships and respect for others. For example, we tell them not to touch a hot stove top, not to hurt others, or not to cross a road unaided. As children mature into teens, clear boundaries help them to develop emotionally and build resilience.
Transitioning from a carefree and fun school holiday break to a routine-based school year can be a significant adjustment for your son and family. It is important that you get your son excited about going back to school, so that he looks forward to the year ahead with positivity and motivation.