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In Canada, the first week of May is Mental Health Awareness week, which coincides with Children’s Mental Health Awareness week! I think it’s so important to highlight that children and young adults can suffer from mental health issues too.
Depression, anxiety and eating disorders don’t discriminate based on age, they can affect kids too. I was actually diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at the age of 7. If you’re worried your child may have a mental health issue, talk to your family doctor right away.
Even if your child isn’t battling anxiety or depression, it’s still important to boost their mental health. Everyone, even kids, gets down once and awhile, and can benefit from a pick-me-up. Luckily, there are simple ways to boost your child’s mental health.
Whether it’s crafts, dress-up or music, getting your child in touch with their artistic side is amazing for their health. If your child is a worrier or anxious, they may have a hard time stopping their mind from racing. But if you let them work with their hands, then their mind will calm down because they have something else to focus on. Crafts like pottery or painting are great for kids who have a hard time expressing how they feel or if they have a lot of anger. Let them work their emotions out through their artwork.
Your child’s diet can have a huge impact on your child’s mood. I’m sure you’ve witnessed how quickly your little one crashes after eating sugar. So it’s not surprising that sugar can be a huge trigger for anxiety and depression. Try to limit the amount of sugar your child consumes and save sweet treats for special occasions. Also, encourage your child to eat a healthy diet. Yes, this is difficult to do with picky eaters. But try sneaking extra veggies into their smoothies or pasta sauce.
3. Get outside
Vitamin D is a great mood booster, so get your kids outside and soaking up the sun—with sunscreen on of course. Try going for a family walk or get your kids to help you in garden. Obviously, in Canada it can be hard to get sunshine all year round, so add vitamin-D rich food to your little one’s diet and think about giving them a vitamin D supplement. First talk to your pediatrician about an appropriate vitamin for your child.
4. Do a little stretch
Yoga isn’t just great for adults, it’s great for kids too. Your child probably won’t want to go to an hour yoga class, so adapt your yoga routine to suit your kid’s ability and attention span. A quick 10-minute stretch in the morning or in the afternoon is perfect. You can even talk to your child’s teacher about introducing a daily stretch into the classroom routine. Kids are bound to get antsy after sitting at a desk for hours at a time, so the whole class will benefit from an afternoon stretch.