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How To Reduce Your Child's Anxieties

31/05/2017 14:08 BST | Updated 31/05/2017 14:08 BST

It's International Children's Day on the 1st June 2017.

Back in 1954 the UN decided to dedicate the 1st of June to promote child welfare across the globe.

While, many people will instinctively think about such campaigns run by Red Nose Day, Children In Need and UNICEF, which focus on supporting children who are struggling with physical difficulties or from extreme levels of poverty it's important to remember that many children here (and abroad) are struggling from psychological difficulties.

Whether, these psychological difficulties have been brought on because of difficult circumstances is not important.

It's true that in recent weeks and months there has been a lot about improving child mental health here in the UK (especially over Mental Health Awareness Week and of course the impending election...) one could also argue that the past few years have also contained many different schemes and promises to tackle what is a very serious issue.

At the time of writing this roughly 1 in 10 children in the UK are struggling with mental ill health (Murphy, M, & Fonagy, P., 2012) and nearly half of all mental ill health symptoms first arise before a child is 14 and 3 in 4 before an individual reaches their mid-twenties (Joint Strategic Needs Assessment for Kirklees, 2010).

In all honesty, I truly believe that as a nation we are spouting rhetoric but not yet putting anything into action which can make lasting changes.

By not developing and implementing effective systems which support children we are simply 'allowing' children to struggle.

OK, I know - we have £0 cash.

But, let's be honest that's not going to change any time soon and the more we do nothing, the less money we're likely to have as a nation.

The more children who grow up with mental ill health, the more money the government has to pay to support these children and the less likely these children will grow up into adults who are able to successfully put back into society.

We know that adults wait months, sometimes years to get help.

It's a complete waste of human life.

More so, because there's so much which can be done (and very cheaply) to dramatically improve someone's outlook.

With the advances in recent neurology we know that the brain is plastic (Stix, G., 2014) - meaning that we can simply rewire it to behave differently.

We know, thanks to research, that things like meditation (Mental Health Foundation), affirmations (Huljich, P., 2012), gratitude journaling (Harvard Medical School, 2011), Emotional Freedom Technique EFT (Stewart, T), essential oils (Sparks, A) and visualisations (Adams, A.J., 2009) all have a profound effect on reversing the symptoms associated with mental ill health - and yet child mental ill health is on the increase.

Did you know that if you spend the first 1-2 minutes of every morning recalling positive events and memories, playing these out in your mind and recalling the positive feelings you felt, you'll experience much more happiness that day?

"There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle". (Albert Einstein)

But, why first thing in the morning?

Well, when we first wake up, our brains are usually in the alpha state and this is the ideal state for things like hypnosis, because, this is when your subconscious is really relaxed and far more susceptible to suggestions from your conscious (Walcutt, D.L). By purposely focusing your conscious on positive things your subconscious (and therefore, your behaviours) are also going to be positive.

This is a great way to get out of being worried about what is going to happen (because no one can predict the future) and to stop you dwelling on anything which might have gone a little topsy turvey the day before (because no one can turn back time).

It's also so easy to do.

It's a great thing to not only do yourself, but to also teach your kids.

Tell them you're going to play a game (depending on their age - e.g., you'll more than likely get some eye rolling if you try telling your 15 year old you're going to play a game!).

Say, that for the next 30 days, everyone in the house is going to spend the first 2 minutes after waking up thinking about all the awesome things that have happened in the past.

The challenge is to try and bring all the happy feelings (again, depending on their age you may need to describe the feelings using visual cues; smiling - happy, clapping - excitement...) forward as well.

Over breakfast, walking to school or whenever you are all together in the morning, you all tell each other your favourite story and what emotion/feeling was strongest.

The winner is the person who does this every day without fail.

Go crazy, get a prize or a trophy...

But, trust me you're not even going to be bothered about winning the prize for yourself (no matter how competitive you are as a parent) - by day 14 just doing this will make your household a calmer, happier and more joyous place to be which is a phenomenal prize in itself!

Doing this every day will build your child's resilience and if they're already struggling, while this may be slightly more difficult in the beginning, after time it will slowly start to reduce some of the effects of mental ill health.

So, good luck - have fun and here's to an awesome 30 days!

Catch you soon, Katie.

P.S. If you enjoyed this post why not sign up for my free 5 day challenge 'Building resilience and combating child mental health' where I share some of the best techniques to help children overcome mental ill health.

http://www.woodlandpsychologicalservices.com/child-behaviour-challenge.html

References:

Adaes, S. (n.d.) Neuroplasticity and Technology: How our Brains Respond. PsychCentral. Retrieved on 29/06/2017 from: https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2016/10/02/neuroplasticity-and-technology-how-our-brains-respond/

Adams, A.J. (2009) Seeing Is Believing: The Power of Visualisation. Psychology Today. Retrieved on 29/06/2017 from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/flourish/200912/seeing-is-believing-the-power-visualization

Joint Strategic Needs Assessment for Kirklees (2010) Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing. Chapter 8. Retrieved on 29/06/2017 from: http://www.kirklees.gov.uk/you-kmc/partners/health/jsna/pdf/KirkleesJSNAReport2010_8_MentalHealthEmotionalWellbeing.pdf

Harvard Medical School (2011). In Praise of Gratitude. Harvard Health Publications. Retrieved on 29/06/2017 from: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/in-praise-of-gratitude

Huljich, P. (2012) Affirmations: Harness the power of affirmations for healing and positive change. Psychology Today. Retrieved on 29/06/2017 from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mind-wellness-awareness/201211/affirmations

Mental Health Foundation (n.d.) Mindfulness. Retrieved on 29/06/2017 from: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/m/mindfulness

Murphy, M, & Fonagy, P. (2012) Mental health problems in children and young people. Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer 2012, Our Children Deserve Better: Prevention, Chapter 10. Retrieved on 29/06/2017 from: Payshttps://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/252660/33571_2901304_CMO_Chapter_10.pdf

Sparks, A. (n.d.) Using Aromatherapy For Mental And Emotional Health. PsychCentral. Retrieved on 29/06/2017 from: https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/02/04/using-aromatherapy-for-mental-and-emotional-health/

Stewart, T. (n.d.) Alternative Tapping Technique Good For Mental Health. Staffordshire University. Retrieved on 29/06/2017 from: http://www.staffs.ac.uk/news/alternative-tapping-technique-good-for-mental-health.jsp

Stix, G. (2014) New Clues to Just How Much the Adult Brain Can Change. Scientific American. Retrieved on 29/06/2017 from: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/talking-back/new-clues-to-just-how-much-the-adult-brain-can-change/

Walcutt, D.L. (n.d.) Stages of Sleep. PsychCentral. Retrieved on 29/06/2017 from: https://psychcentral.com/lib/stages-of-sleep/