Last Updated on September 1, 2023 by Lori Pace
The question many parents have to ask when considering giving their overwhelmed child a mental wellness day off school or other responsibilities would be: “What would we do? Even if it was okay for me to give my child a mental health day? What mental health activities for our kids?”
Good news: The answer is not complicated. It wouldn’t require you to do any preparation or financial investment.
Your child might want to get away from the stress of the day by consuming screen time, but a few of these activities for mental health will help them feel calmer and more positive. So, talking to your child early in the day about your expectations and allowing them to help pick the activities will help you get your child on track to calm confidence.
These are proven to be the best well-being-boosting mental health day activities for children.
Moving Mental Health Activities For Kids
The best thing you can do for your child during a mental health day is to have the best emotional and rational connection with them. What does this actually mean?
Give your child your full attention. Listen with an open mind and intent to understand what they are thinking and feeling.
Connecting with younger children is more likely to happen through shared activities and play than just direct conversation. You should be mindful of when and how your child opens up.
Going Outdoors – Mental Health Activities for Kids
For decades, nature has been shown to be beneficial for children. Spending time outdoors during a mental health day will allow your child these benefits.
We have found that the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, and immunoglobulin A seem to reduce when engaging in nature. It can also associate with lowering blood pressure, improving emotional experience (or short-term emotion), and decreasing levels of depression and anxiety.
Take an “indoor activity” outside! Grab your lunch, a book, or a board game and go outside.
Physical Movements in General
In many ways, physical movement can be a great way to improve mental health. The movement of the body allows emotions to flow through us and creates a release of endorphins.
Aerobic exercise is a proven method that can be used to treat anxiety and depression. Thus, it will come to your child naturally.
Ask your child whether they would like to choose an activity that moves our bodies or if you’d prefer to do it with them. You can give them some control, or let you take over if they are overwhelmed.
Playing – Mental Health Activities for Kids
Play isn’t just how children learn about anything, but also how they release steam and express their unprocessed emotions. Children feel more in control when they play because it is something that they enjoy and not because they have to. Children can create fantasy worlds where they control what happens and predict what will happen. Two pillars of stress relief are control and predictability.
Don’t be afraid to be silly and share your playfulness with your child. Let them direct the play and satisfy their expectations for predictability and control.
Slowing Down is Also One of The Mental Health Activities for Kids
Your child’s brain needs space and quiet time to allow them to see the world from a different perspective. During quiet time, our brains can also regenerate and grow.
Give your child some time to navigate. It’s really simple, right?
Writing a Journal
Journaling can be a powerful tool for mental health and allows your child to express their emotions in a safe environment. This is how you get them out of their heads and into a productive outlet that allows them to reflect on, understand, and work through.
Because of feeling uncomfortable expressing their emotions, some children keep it to themselves. They fear believing that their emotions or thoughts are not important and afraid of being ridiculed. Writing a journal allows children to explore their creativity and is free from judgment. Their journal can be used to help them dream and set goals for themselves. It can also be used to solve internal conflicts or problems.
Creative Arts – Mental Health Activities for Kids
Art can also be a way for your child to release and process overwhelming emotions during a day off school for mental health day. They will have a way to express themselves through art which can also help them to regulate their emotions and become more mindful.
Art materials can be used to express emotions in a safe environment. It can reduce feelings and ideas to manageable sizes and manipulate them as you wish. Children can express themselves multi-dimensionally through movement, image, color, and line.
Make sure you have a welcoming surface for your child (e.g., a tray, tablecloth, etc.) and give them a variety of art tools they can choose.
Listening To Music
Music therapy is a common feature in many pediatric hospitals. It is extremely beneficial in encouraging relaxation and rest for children.
Children’s Music for Rest and Relaxation can be used to help children develop, strengthen and manage self-regulation. It is important to learn how to relax and stay focused in order to manage stress.
Music can have the ability to excite kids and get them moving, but it can also be used to help kids relax and slow down their body, thoughts, and breathing.
With an abundance of sugary sweets and processed foods, the typical child’s diet leaves much to be desired. Your child’s mental well-being and future habits can be improved by incorporating more nutritious and unprocessed foods into their daily diet.
Food and mood are two-way streets. Your mood is affected by what you eat, and your food choices can be affected by your mood. There are many risk factors that can affect mental health, mood disorders, and anxiety. Food is the most manageable risk factor of all. Even if you are predisposed to some of these risk factors, the choices you make about what you eat can have a big impact on your health.
Create a healthy meal together with your child to enjoy better moods, fun, and connection.
Meditating – Mental Health Activities for Kids
A mental health day is an excellent opportunity to try mindfulness activities with kids. Meditation, which simply refers to paying attention and becoming aware of the moment, is one way to practice mindfulness with your children. It will help your child shift out of their stress response system and into a calm and focused part.
Research shows that mindfulness may have the following benefits for children:
- Attention, self-control, classroom participation, compassion, and increased focus.
- Higher academic performance, better ability to resolve conflicts, and overall well-being.
- A decrease in stress, depression, anxiety, and disruptive behavior
Find the best tools to promote mindfulness in children.
You can take a mental health day with your child to reflect on the good and bad aspects of daily life. It’s unlikely your child will make meaningful, long-term progress in areas where they are struggling without planning, problem-solving, and goal setting.
There are many reasons why your child should learn goal setting. It teaches them how to take responsibility for their learning and encourages a positive attitude. These goal-setting resources are great for kids. It will also make your life so much easier for you and for your child.
Mental Health Day activities can have a positive impact on kids
Mental health professionals can tell you that your child’s years of learning new things, making friends, and growing up are filled with joy and wonder.
Your child may be under pressure to achieve high academic grades, join a club sports team, or navigate social conflicts with peers. Sometimes it can all feel overwhelming. Hence, it leads to mental health struggle to kids, and adult children.
Your child can take some time off to engage in these mental health day activities. This will also help them achieve the 3 R’s we all need more of: relaxation, reflection, and reset.