Of the many challenges facing parents today, helping your child to build and maintain positive mental health is surely one of the most difficult. Recent data shows that 15% of young people aged 12-17 report suffering from at least one major depressive episode during the last year. That’s not to mention the children and young people who may not classify themselves as depressed, but still experience feelings of anxiety, low self esteem or worry about their future. While courses such as Online Parenting Skills, Parent-Child and Thrive Online can help to equip parents to build their child’s self esteem and communication skills, it’s also smart to look at talents or instincts your children already possess, and nurture them to encourage feelings of positivity, belonging and confidence. If your child is naturally creative, you’re off to a great start.
Creative hobbies such as drawing or writing can help children and young people to express themselves without explaining verbally. This can give them a valuable outlet, whilst providing you with a powerful insight into their feelings. A recent survey found that 83% of children experienced more negative feelings post pandemic, and finding ways to express and release these thoughts is more important than ever.
Boosting brain health
Scientists have found that creative activities that keep fingers busy – for example sketching, knitting or woodwork – can change the brain’s neurochemistry, creating feelings of happiness and satisfaction. Fortunately, these can be supported at home fairly easily and cost effectively. Why not pick up some pencils and a sketch pad, sit down together for a drawing tutorial that you can access online, and share the results with friends and family? Or take your child on a walk to note interesting shapes and patterns in nature, and see if they can replicate them at home. Not only will the process help them to feel happier, but praising their hard work and finished result can also help to boost their self esteem and confidence.
Encouraging a state of flow
Engaging in a creative pursuit also helps children to escape from everyday worries and enter a state of flow, where their focus is purely on the task at hand. This can be particularly valuable for young people who are struggling to find their identity, navigate a turbulent home life, or settle into a new school. For some children, working with music playing can really help them to switch off from the day to day and concentrate on their task. You may find it especially helpful for teens who may be more self conscious at first.
At a time when so many children and young people are experiencing anxiety or worry, encouraging creative instincts is a powerful way to help them build robust mental health. By helping them to express their feelings, boost their happiness and escape everyday worries for a short while, you are equipping your young person with lots of valuable tools. Celebrate their work together, remembering to praise persistence, patience and effort too; by doing so you are helping your child to create a more content and stable future.