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There are so many ways you can have a conversation around mental health that’s both age appropriate and inclusive to all needs, whether it’s via the medium of books or by using more physical tools such as toys or art. Children’s Mental Health Week is celebrated every year between the 7th and 13th February. It’s main aim is to encourage conversation around mental health in children and young people.
Established in 2015 by Children’s Charity Place2Be, following research stating that “at least 1 in 6 children and young people have a diagnosable mental health problem“, Children’s Mental Health Week is now celebrated nationwide across schools and other organisations, including nurseries and home-school environments.
Every year, Children’s Mental Health Week celebrates a new “theme” to promote conversation, with this year’s theme being Growing Together. This might look like helping others grow or adapt to change, or yourself facing new challenges or obstacles with friends, family or peers.
If you’re thinking about investing in your child’s Mental Health Learning Resources have a great selection of toys and tools to promote well-being and mindfulness. From their range of sensory fidget toys to developmental toys that encourage children to talk about their emotions and feelings; there’s lots of variety to choose from.
A Work in Progress…
From a young age, it was really important that we not only normalised talking about our own mental health, but that we encouraged our son to talk about his. As a boy especially, it’s vital that we encourage a healthy relationship with feelings and emotion, and being comfortable expressing it.
Now at the age of six, our son is comfortable to tell us when he is feeling sad or overwhelmed. But it’s been a work in progress. It’s not just been about sharing verbally whether we’re happy or sad, but tending to any sensory needs. Learning Resources offer a wide range of tools for both parents and teachers to assist children on their journey to having a healthy relationship with their Mental Health.
If you have children the same age as our son, my personal favourite is their Sensory Fidget Toy Kit. It allows children to focus whilst also managing any anxiety; both at home and in the classroom. If you have younger children, however, then their Fine Motor Hedgehog encourages lots of fun, tactile play.
As an LGBT family, it’s also important that we allow our son to express his identity freely so that he can live the most authentically. As part of their well-being range, Learning Resources also offer a fabulous selection of toys and games that celebrate subjects such as family and community.
Their ‘All About Me’ Double-Sided Mirrors are an excellent tool for personal development, where children can study themselves using observational skills. To offer children an understanding about community, and where they sit in the world, I adore their ‘All About Me’ Neighbourhood Set. It assists children identify their own family makeup, as well as design their own family groups (not forgetting the family dog!), using colourful “family” themed counters.
Talking about mental health, even amongst children, doesn’t have to be difficult. It also doesn’t have to be overt and direct. This can often make conversations feel forced and unnatural. Instead, start with subtle observations at the dinner table or on the school run. Feeling tired or overwhelmed? Share that with your child so that mental health becomes a normal part of life.
If conversation isn’t a strong point, however, some of the toys and tools mentioned in this post will no doubt act as a great stepping stone to talking about your child’s mental health, whilst helping children listen to their own.
If you feel this post has helped you, let us know in the comments below. Likewise, let us know what toys and tools from the Learning Resources SEL (Social Emotional Learning Toys) range grab your attention!