When I taught in the primary classroom, it was vital for me to promote children’s mental well-being, boost self-esteem, and encourage mindfulness.
It is still important to me.
Tall Tartan Talks here … I continue my education series exploring the primary curriculum, which starts with Why I Tutor.
More than ever children (and adults) need support to look after their mental health and well-being.
Promoting a child’s well-being involves creating a supportive environment that nurtures their physical, emotional, social, and cognitive development. They should feel worthy.
When supporting the well-being of a child, whether at home or at school, here are key strategies:
- Foster a healthy relationship by encouraging positivity. Promote open communication, active listening, empathy, and a growth mindset. A growth mindset is when failure is viewed as good (leading to improvement), not bad.
- Help them recognise and express their emotions. Teach them coping mechanisms such as deep breathing. Create a nurturing and non-judgemental environment where they feel comfortable discussing their feelings.
- Create a stimulating environment that encourages curiosity. Offer age-appropriate activities that promote cognitive development. Engage in conversations, ask open-ended questions, and encourage critical thinking.
- Establish routines and boundaries by giving consistent routines and clear boundaries to provide them with a sense of security and stability. Set reasonable expectations and rules while allowing room for autonomy and decision-making.
- Support their efforts towards independence. Allow them to develop self-confidence and a sense of competence.
- Be a positive role model by modelling positive behaviour, such as kindness, respect, and resilience.
- Demonstrate healthy ways of managing stress and conflicts to teach children effective coping mechanisms.
Once a child is aware of the state of their mental health and well-being, they can maintain a feeling of wellness and positivity by practising mindfulness.
Here are some strategies to help children develop mindfulness and promote their self-awareness and present-moment focus. These strategies help them to cope with feelings of overwhelm. These strategies work for adults too!
Teach children to pay attention to their breath by taking slow, deep breaths and noticing the sensation of the air entering and leaving their bodies. Encourage them to do this for a few minutes each day, especially when they feel stressed or overwhelmed.
Being aware of body
Guide children in bringing awareness to different parts of their body. They can do simple exercises like stretching or yoga poses while paying attention to how their bodies feel in each position. This helps them develop a connection between their minds and bodies.
Encourage children to listen carefully to sounds around them. They can close their eyes and focus on identifying different sounds, such as birds chirping, leaves rustling, other voices, or even their own breath. This practice enhances their ability to be fully present and attentive.
Teach children to increase gratitude by reflecting on things they are thankful for. This can be done through daily gratitude journals or by sharing what they appreciate during mealtime or bedtime routines. It helps shift their focus to the positive aspects of life.
Guide children to take mindful walks, where they pay attention to the sensations of each step. Encourage them to observe their surroundings, look up at the sky, notice the colours, textures, and sounds, and feel the ground beneath their feet.
Introduce fun mindfulness games and activities designed for children. For example, ‘mindful colouring’ where they engage while focusing on the present moment.
Using guided meditation
Use age-appropriate guided meditations or mindfulness apps that offer guided sessions tailored for children. These resources can help children relax, improve focus, and develop mindfulness skills.
Being a role model
Children learn by observing the adults around them. Practice mindfulness yourself and demonstrate mindful behaviours in your daily life. This sets an example for them to follow and encourages them to incorporate mindfulness into their own routines.
Remember, consistency is key when helping children develop mindfulness. Encourage them to practice by making sure it remains enjoyable and not forced.
By doing a variety of the activities above, the child will:
- Recognise and acknowledge when different emotions arise.
- Realise how to manage difficult emotions such as anxiety, overwhelm and anger.
- Empower themselves to deal with life’s challenges.
- Become more emotionally resilient.
- Create a more positive mindset.
Support a child by helping them to put their worries into perspective – therefore boosting their self-esteem. Failing does not make them a failure. Failing is the first step to success. Assure them that they are worthy.
Giving the child self-help techniques will help promote a willingness to learn. In my experience children can’t learn if they are worrying. Isn’t that true of all of us?
As a freelance proofreader, one of my proofreading specialisms is the non-fiction genre of well-being, mental health, and mindfulness.
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- NSPCC – Well-being: https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/child-health-development/promoting-mental-health-wellbeing
- Young Minds – Fighting for young people’s mental health: https://www.youngminds.org.uk/https://www.youngminds.org.uk/
- BBC Children In Need – Mindfulness: https://www.bbcchildreninneed.co.uk/schools/primary-school/mindfulness-hub/
- Twinkl – Mindfulness: https://www.twinkl.co.uk/wellbeing/element/children-mindfulness