With so much focus on mental health from an adult perspective, it’s easy to forget that this is a matter which also affects many children. According to NHS Digital, one in eight (12.8%) of children and young people aged between five and 19, surveyed in England in 2017, has a mental disorder. The increasing presence of social media has been highlighted as a potential factor, although the causes are many, varied and complex given the age of accelerating change we are living in.
The question of how to equip our children emotionally and mentally for this modern world is one that is at the forefront of many parents minds, and it is something that we will be looking at in more detail as we head into children’s Mental Health Week next week(4th to 11th February).
Though seemingly simplistic, there is much to be said for the power of creative play in terms of helping children to express, process and understand their emotions. Expressing feelings can be difficult for a child, and creative play ( which often involves describing different emotions/situations through drawing, painting, make-believe games, role-playing or storytelling, for example) can be a useful means for them to express these emotions, make sense of them and ultimately feel more confident.
Giving children the encouragement and opportunity to let their imaginations run free can, to a great extent, provide a platform for them to think outside the box and explore new possibilities, ideas and solutions to the challenges they might be facing. This is a skill that will inevitabbly serve them well throughout their lives, since creativity (more than any other skill perhaps) is what CEOs rate as one of the most useful life navigating skills moving forward.
Since January is International creativity month, now is a perfect time to encourage these creative capabilities which, aside from being emotionally helpful, can also go a long way to supporting learning, development, eye co-ordination and fine gross motor skills, to name but a few.