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Thursday 11 October 2012

Mental Health Tips for Kids with Karen Tyrrell

KBR warmly welcomes author Karen Tyrrell with this guest post on ways to foster mental and emotional resilience in children.

We’re celebrating Mental Health Week 7-13 October!

When I taught primary school, parents of my students harassed me to breaking point and beyond. After I was released from a psych hospital, I wrote my gutsy memoir, Me & Her: a Memoir of Madness, sharing my strategies to recovery.

I’m now a writer for children and a fervent mental health advocate delivering Resilience training workshops. I’m extremely passionate about mental health for children. Kids need powerful stories to nurture positive self-talk and learn coping strategies to deal with life’s little and BIG problems.

How can we make our children MORE resilient to withstand the pressures of modern life?

Top #10 Ways to Foster Resilience in your Children
  1. Read positive books about mental health to your kids, such as Go Away, Mr Worry Thoughts by Nicky Johnson (on how to beat anxiety), Coming Home by Sharon McGuiness (on how to cope with depression), and lead discussions on anxiety = worry and depression = bad days.
  2. Be a positive role model. Lead by example. Show them how to bounce back. Teach positive social skills and problem solving skills.
  3. Urge younger children to associate each emotion with specific facial expressions, body language and an emoticon. :)
  4. Catch your kids being successful. Positive feedback validates and reinforces their positive behaviour.
  5. Discuss how to express emotions and feelings with your child to open up communication channels.
  6. Encourage your children to express what’s on their mind verbally AND write down what’s worrying them in their diaries.
  7. Immerse your child into an environment of self-confidence, self-awareness and emotional awareness.
  8. Teach kids slow deep breathing for relaxation.
  9. Ensure your child gets enough sleep, exercises every day and eats a healthy diet.
  10. Teach your child simple meditation techniques. Start with a comfortable position, palms up, eyes closed, slow deep breaths. Visualize being calm.
I urge you as a parent or as a teacher to support the development of mental health and positive wellbeing in your children.

Karen Tyrrell is a Brisbane writer for children and adults. Karen writes kids sci-fi chapter books and picture books. She's also a teacher, mental health advocate, blogger and workshop presenter. Learn more about Karen and her book Me & Her: A Memoir of Madness at www.karentyrrell.com.