A Week’s Worth of Fun Activities to Boost Kids Mental Health
As you might have read in our previous post, a physically healthy lifestyle can offer many benefits to your little one's development. Just as important, is their mental health too!
Giving children a variety of fun, interactive ways to help them find peace whenever they're feeling nervous, anxious, or overwhelmed, can help them navigate tough moments in life more smoothly — a tool they will need for the rest of their lives.
Get inspired by one of of these seven mental health activities that are simple enough to do at home, and will be sure to brighten up your week.
Activity #1: Swing or Rock the Body
The rhythmic nature of being rocked intrinsically provides a sense of comforting at any age in life. Whether it's on an outdoor swing, relaxing in a rocking chair, or balancing on a yoga ball, this rhythm can help regulate the nervous system, similar to how a mother rocks a baby.
Getting outside to enjoy swinging is a great time to experience the calming benefits of nature as well, and also rev up endorphins from the physical activity of engaging your limbs. It can help kids feel more aware of their body when their emotions begin to take over.
No access to an outdoor swing? No problem! Here are a few other alternatives you can try to enjoy the benefits of swinging:
- Balance on a yoga ball
- Rock in a rocking chair
- Rock in a hammock (or make one at home with sheets!)
- Bend over at your waist, and gently swing the body back and forth with forearms overhead
Shop our Boogie Bop book for the perfect read-along that can help get the body moving to a relaxing rhythm! →
Activity #2: Break Out the Arts & Crafts
Getting out the artistic materials or making a special journal to write in can be very soothing activities to children. After all, there is an artist in us all! Various creative projects like puzzles or coloring books can offer moments of quiet concentration to relax the mind. Other ways to be creative may be making sensory objects like slime or play-do, which can help children regulate their nervous system through activating their senses.
When it comes to getting creative, there are truly no limits! Whether it's making magical creatures from recycled cardboard or breaking out the glitter pens, this activity is a go-to to keep children's mental attitude positive and relaxed.
Activity #3: Listening to or Making Music
Music is one of the oldest, most relied upon ways we connect with our emotions. In fact, this is an activity you can do daily! A study in 2022 found that use of music in therapy for adolescents helped boost self-esteem, decrease social isolation, and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Enjoying the benefits of music can come in a variety of methods! Which is great news when you consider that listening to music has shown to ease anxiety and increase sleep quality. Some ways to enjoy your musical activities include:
- Singing along with parents or a group to an interactive song
- Drumming on pots or pans to develop rhythm
- Dancing to songs kids love
- Playing instruments
- Encouraging kids to write their own songs
Activity #4: Make a Calming Checklist
Having a checklist of activities that brings a child peace or happiness can be a powerful tool when they are going through a hard time. These checklists can also help them visualize a better mood to help them take their mind off of any negativity.
Grab several pieces of paper to write on, and jar or box to store the paper slips. Have the child write on the paper things that make them happy or things they are grateful for. Whether it's a song, book, toy, art supplies, or hug, encourage them to be honest.
Next time they begin to feel angry or anxious, have them reach in the jar for an item from their calming checklist.
Activity #5: Get Near Water
Water has long been shown to help regulate the body's nervous system. Whether it's staying hydrated by drinking a glass of water, or calming the nerves with a soothing bath, anything water related can be a reliable way to encourage positive mental health. This is especially true for experiencing water in the great outdoors. The calming sound of an ocean or creek can be extremely therapeutic. Some options to incorporate water into your activity include:
- Running a bubble bath
- Play in the sink with toys, sponges, or containers
- Visit a body of water such as a pool, lake, pond, or the ocean
- Look at images or videos of bodies of water or waves
Activity #6: Plan a Get Together
Community can be extremely valuable when its comes to positive mental health for children. Despite today's challenges, there is simply no replacement for human interaction!
Planning a play date with friends or family can help keep children's connections strong. Being in relationship with one another allows us to practice valuable life lessons like communication and empathy, which in turn can help children manage their emotions and maintain positive mental health. Set up that next get together with your little ones, it will be worth it!
Activity #7: Make a Mindful Jar
Having a visualization of our emotions can be a powerful tool to help us get control over them and understand the process happening in our body when we're experiencing hard ones. Creating a mindful jar is a simple activity that only requires a few items and can have a huge impact on children's ability to move through emotions.
- Grab an empty jar with no labels and tight fitting lid
- Pour hot water into the jar, along with glitter glue, glitter, or both
- Put the lid on tight and shake the jar
The next time a child begins to feel anger or anxiousness, have them shake the jar and watch as the glitter slowly floats to the bottom. Even better, have them practice deep breathing as they watch it float.