There is no shocker that the mental health of our kids is being negatively affected, and while the world seems to be moving quickly around us, we must consciously choose to slow it down so that we can focus on ways to keep our kids from spiraling into a mental illness such as depression. The world isn’t set up as it was years ago, many of us shelter our children in fear of their safety. Drowning ourselves in media, hearing about murders, kidnappings, and much more. Many of us feel the safest and healthiest place for our children is behind the walls of their homes buried behind some sort of technological device.
Not only has technology kept them out of our hair and has allowed us to do the things we need or prefer to do in our busy lives, we have actually become dependent on our children using these devices. Ultimately this trend leads to everyone in the home losing the creativity it takes to manage a healthy household. Unfortunately our kids are being affected by this in ways that many of us can’t see, choose to ignore because of our own busy lives, contentment, or simply not knowing where to turn. We have fallen into many bad habits in our lifestyles that it has become the norm in our households.
Furthermore, lets be clear, technology isn’t the only issue; we have adopted poor diets in our homes, lack of creative play (indoors and outdoors), lack of meaningful social interactions, lack of responsibilities, lacking of space to release emotions, etc. So, how can we get back on track?
Well we have created ways that will hopefully spark your creativity and allow you to take the challenge of ensuring your child is in their most prominent stages of mental health throughout their journey of childhood.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Work on eliminating or limiting technology in the household, try to replace it with things such as drawing, reading, writing, arts and crafts, listening to music/dancing, conversation, meditation (Afro Yogi Kids offers a variety of social and emotional focused classes), playing with pets, learning about nature, riding a bike, playing at a park, setting up meeting with friends, exercise, imaginative play, cooking together, exercise, etc.
- Limit the amount of fast food/ processed foods and sugar-based foods in their diets. Take this opportunity to learn healthy alternatives and even cook together. How about something as simple as juicing or creating smoothies? Slicing fruits and Veggies? It doesn’t always have to be too fancy.
- Ask Question such as “What if” or “Would you rather” or simply “How was your day” to begin to spark meaningful and caring conversations.
- Create Responsibilities- This will allow the child to feel as if they have a role/ purpose in the household and begin to develop their independence as well as give them a sense of pride for the great job they have done. (We use the app Greenlight to help with creating responsibilities).
- Allow them to venture outside more often, this can be in the backyard or in other places you may feel comfortable with. Gather supplies for them to plant a garden, build a fort, hide goodies for them to go seek, tell them to go seek a lizard or a worm, create art from nature, listen for the birds, give them a camera and tell them to photograph their favorite things, etc.
- Allow them to be bored, many children think its the end of the world when they are bored but its actually the moment many of us growing up started to get creative. You know, finding a box and pretending it was a fort, taking the sheets/chairs and building a tent, playing in the mud outside and make “dinner”. You get the point, creativity is sparked through our boredom. Let them figure it out without technology.
- Build Friendships- Find mothers who have kids around the same age and plan outings that are free from technology, create themed play-dates, let them figure out how they can socialize without playing a video game or watching TV, meet in a park or a basketball goal with a basketball in hand, etc. You get the idea, right?
We hope some of these ideas give you some hope and inspiration and convince you to take the Kids mental health boost challenge, feel free to comment and add more suggestions below to help others in need.
Lakischa Smith, Creator of Moms of Color