It’s never too early to talk mental health

Why teaching your children positive mental health techniques in the early years is so important

When I was a child, I wanted to take my brain out and put it somewhere else. Endless, tiring thoughts, insufferable at times. This continued into adult life and around my mid 30s I broke. My body gave in, and I suffered first from a broken thyroid and then chronic fatigue. Later, aged 38, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Looking back, I’d swear these were because of this relentless barrage of thinking, rumination and worries.

Discovering meditation, after that last diagnosis of a chronic life-long condition, felt like heaven. I mean I was really rubbish at it — who can sit and not think, right?! But I soon came to realise this wasn’t the point. The brain’s job is to think. Starting to train our brains is a process of nudging it to come back to a place of quiet, like a new puppy. It also teaches us that we are not our thoughts. They are just like the passing clouds in the sky.

I wish I had known this as a child. 

As part of #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek this week, we wanted to urge you that it's never to early to start to teach positive mental health. 

Our mission is to bring mindfulness to all early years children - no matter their circumstances.

We want to help young children develop strong, healthy, calm minds through positive daily mindfulness activities that nurture positive mental health behaviours in the present moment - and their futures. 

Teaching children how to talk about how they feel early in life is so important. 

When Boy Child was young, after I’d been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, we used to play Emotion Faces so he could recognise the variety of different human emotions. I’d tell him it’s OK to be sad, or worried about Mum, but explain he wasn’t made of that sadness or the worry, and that the thoughts and feelings would pass. Like the clouds in the sky.

So as part of #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek, I wanted to share this little game with you to help you start to talk to your children about emotions. 

Emotion Faces went a little something like this, but please tailor any ideas to suit your child.

· Sit in front of each other and ask to play a guessing game with them.

· Make a happy/sad/angry/etc face and get them to guess what emotion it is.

· Vice versa, ask them to make a happy face, a sad face.

· Maybe do some drawings if it helps — emojis are always good.

· If they’re up for it, maybe have a chat about what that emotion feels like in their bodies so they can identify it.

· And you could also chat about how you might make yourself feel better, if you were feeling x, y, or z. Remember you are their emotional guide, so they’ll look to you for ways of coping.

Making time to talk with our little ones and teach them about our emotions and how we are not our thoughts gives them positive mental health tools to guide them through life. It might stop them feeling they need to take their brain out their heads.

For more, visit our Calm Spaces course, with it's supporting wellbeing toolbox for you to help teach early years children positive mental health and support their futures.