When children scrape their knees, they know it’s an injury that needs to be treated. But when they suffer from something mentally, they might not know it’s just as important to have their minds cared for too.
Maintaining good mental health should be considered a lesson not only for adults but for children as well.
“I used to see this level of stress in high schoolers who were applying to college,” said Katie Hurley, a child and adolescent psychotherapist and the author of The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World. “Now I have 5-year-olds in my office who are dealing with anxiety disorders and excessive stress.”
We spoke to experts in psychology, pediatrics and mindfulness for tips on how to teach kids the importance of mental health. They offered five interesting ways to get children to express themselves, feel validated in their emotions and take care of their minds just as much as their bodies.
Try the ‘emotional volcano’ method
Hurley said she talks to kids and parents about their feelings using the “emotional volcano.” She draws a volcano on a whiteboard and explains that everyone has different feelings throughout the day. When we don’t express those feelings, they remain in the volcano until it erupts.
“If we just leave those feelings in the volcano, they start to really bubble and bubble and bubble until they come flying out and exploding, and that’s when you get the crying, hitting and kicking,” she said.