Mental Health Day For Kids: Why it Could be Good For Them!
All of us – regardless of age – have a right to care for ourselves and this includes our mental and emotional well-being too. When adults might need days or even weeks to care for their mental health during these turbulent times, can you imagine the toll not taking breaks for their mental peace can do on a kid?
We all deserve to check in with ourselves, take a break, and recharge our minds so that we can work at our full capacity. Just like we need a break, children need it too. Maybe more so than we do.
In recent years, we’ve heard and seen, the toll mental health has taken on our children. According to stats, the rate of depression and anxiety in high school students and even toddlers have risen. Did you know that every 1 in 6 children (between the ages of 6-17) struggles with or is diagnosed with a mental health disorder each year?
As parents, guardians, or elder siblings, we should be able to help our children feel relaxed and recharged and while they might not have the same responsibilities and duties as we have, they still flounder under academic pressure, social pressure, and even family conflicts.
Let’s take a look at why mental health days for kids are an important part of their self-care routine and how you can spend a mental health day with your child.
Why Kids Need a Mental Health Day?
The first thought that you might have as you read this article must be, “why does my kid need a mental health day and how will it benefit them?” Well, let me tell you one thing. Everyone – yes, even a kid – struggles with something or the other. The only difference is that we, as adults, can label our struggles to find answers, but children do not have that liberty.
First, children (especially toddlers and pre-teens) struggle with understanding the concept of depression, anxiety, and even stress. They can’t seem to handle the negative feelings that come to them, and they lash out in irritation, frustration, and anger. In toddlers, this stress and anxiety may manifest as temper tantrums, selective mutism, and even social isolation.
In high school students, stress and anxiety may manifest as lashing out, engaging in dangerous activities, being impulsive, acting out of character, self-isolation, and being aggressive.
When you ask, “Why do kids need a mental health day?” there could be certain reasons that might aggravate their mental peace. Some of the common causes that might harm their mental health could include;
- Relationship struggles (with family and friends)
- Academic pressure
- Family trauma or conflicts (parents’ divorce, death of a parent, etc.)
- Pre-existing mental health disorder
So, how do we know when our child needs a mental health day?
Taking a mental health day is just as easy to take for kids as it is for adults. We, adults, take a break from work because we begin to feel burnout, depressed, anxious, or chronically stressed and need a break so we can care for ourselves and come out stronger and better. This is similar for kids too.
A mental health day for kids is mainly to help them reduce stress, take care of their emotional state, and prevent burnout. Mental health day offers an opportunity for kids to focus on themselves, and their needs, calm their minds, and rest their bodies.
Mental health days for kids – and even for adults – can have amazing and rejuvenating benefits such as;
- Improve sleep
- Reduce stress
- Improve emotional regulation
- Promote relaxation for the mind and body
Here are a few things you can keep in mind when you’re wondering if it’s time for your kid to take a break from it all;
- Has your kid been feeling anxious or overwhelmed more than usual?
- Have they been studying or working too hard on a project and haven’t taken time for themselves?
- Were there any stressful events that happened at school or home that might have been traumatizing for your child?
- Do they feel safe and comfortable going to school? Or are they avoiding school?
- Is their schedule overbooked with homework and extracurricular activities, leaving them with no time to themselves?
The answers to these questions can be imperative in determining if your child needs a mental health break. If your kid seems anxious and depressed even after a well-deserved break, then you should consult a professional for help.
In 2018, Utah became the first state to pass a bill that allows students to take a mental health day as a leave of absence from school. This move was followed by Oregon a year later allowing students to take up to five days off within three months. In the last few years, many other states have followed this move and approved mental health days for students.
States where mental health days are allowed;
Other states have proposed the law, but a final decision is yet to be made.
7 Ways to Spend Mental Health Day With Your Child
1.Create an Emotionally Safe Space for Them
One of the easiest things you can do for your child is to create an emotionally safe space for them and be there for them. And I’m not just talking about being physically present. You need to be there for them – mentally and emotionally. Give them your time, vulnerability, and honesty. This will help them open up about their struggles with you and share what’s worrying them.
Try to be open-minded and listen with a non-judgmental ear. Don’t jump to conclusions or put words in their mouths. Focus on them only.
2.Exercise With Them
Another way you can spend a mental health day with your child is through exercising. Not just for your physical health but exercising can work wonders for your mental health too. Exercising helps release endorphins, one of the happy hormones, and reduces stress. Exercise can also help work on self-image issues and self-esteem.
Here, you can ask your child how they want to exercise. Do they want gentle movement exercises like yoga or are they looking for something more energetic like dancing, cardio, or running?
3.Get Creative Together
Arts can be a great way to express your feelings and emotions that you can’t put into words. It could include painting, drawing, crafting, writing, or even making a song. This is another thing you can engage in with your child. For once, forget being strict and disciplined and let your child’s imagination run wild.
Expressive arts can help decrease stress and anxiety, and even lift the mood. It has also been proven to improve physical and mental well-being.
4.Spend Some Time in Nature
Go outdoors when you can’t think of something. A walk in the park or a picnic under the evening light can be a good way to spend a relaxing day. You don’t have to do anything but bask in the beauty of nature with your child.
Being in nature can help lower blood pressure, reduce stress, improve mood, increase attention, and decrease anxiety and depression. So, take your child on a beautiful day in nature!
5.Practice Mindfulness With Them
Meditation is also an amazing activity you can try with your child when taking a mental health day. Mindfulness meditation can help them learn to be present in the moment and not dwell on the past or worry about the future.
Sit with your kid and ask them to tune in to their senses and describe what they are feeling. You can try these mindfulness techniques with your kid too.
6.Cook a Healthy Meal for Them, With Them
Some days, meals can be hurried especially when you’re a working parent. On a mental health day, take a break from all the hurried mealtimes and slow down. Maybe take some time with your kid and cook a meal together.
You can make your child’s favorite meal, or you can try a new healthy recipe with them. After making a meal, you and your child can eat it mindfully too!
7.Listen to Some Music
Music is the language of the soul and can say a lot about what you’re feeling without doing much. Use that! Ask your child to share their favorite song or music genre with you and listen to what they are listening to. This can help you take a peek into their thinking process and emotions.
You and your child can also choose to listen to music together. Maybe discover a new genre that you can listen to together. Music can help calm stress, promote relaxation, and even boost energy.
Just like we need breaks every once in a while, to care for our mental and emotional well-being, children need the same too. Take note of your child’s mental health, check in with them, and ask them if they would like a mental health day when they can only focus on calming their minds and resting their bodies.
I hope this blog helps you understand why kids need a mental health day and how to spend a mental health day with your child. For more, you can write to us at email@example.com or DM us on social media. You can also comment with your thoughts and tips below.