It’s Children’s Mental Health week, and the charity Place2Be have a great website for this special week which I’d like to share with you now. Feel free to click this link and have a look around their website specifically for children’s mental health week. If you’d like to donate to this worthy cause, the button is at the top of their site. This year’s theme is Find Your Brave. Bravery has been a challenge in this house over the past few years.
When your child is constantly and somewhat flippantly told to be brave by people in authority, it gets old, real quick. I hate forced bravery and personally believe it can be so damaging to emotional growth. Sullivan would consistently fail to be brave (in his opinion, very much not in ours) and he would hang on to this feeling well after each appointment or procedure he had to endure was over. The thing that stuck around for him was that he wasn’t a brave boy like everyone had told him to be. He became mute, cried or screamed, or had a panic attack. He vomited through fear or passed out. This happened so many times, people forcing information out of him, pinning him down and yelling over his sobs “That’s it! Be a brave boy now!” that the concept of bravery had become totally alien to him. He couldn’t accept his strengths and was ashamed. It broke my heart seeing his self-confidence crumble.
It took a lot of hard work to start reversing this negativity. Without realising, Find Your Brave was kind of how we approached healing with Sullivan at home, in our own way. We talked about the little things that happen every day, like asking someone for help, trying something new, sharing a worry or helping someone out. These can all be considered brilliantly brave! We talked about crying and panic attacks not taking away or cancelling out his bravery, but him coming out of the other side and communicating with us was actually a super brave action and something to really be proud of. Slowly he started to understand this way of thinking and in turn, began to lose some of the anxieties associated with going to medical appointments or into new, unknown scenarios.
A few weeks ago my friend Sarah shared a children’s journal with me called The HappySelf Journal. I instantly fell in love with it and bought a copy for Sullivan. In many ways, this little book echoes the message Place2Be are trying to put out this year around children’s mental health. Every day (or whenever your child feels motivated to) you can fill out a small page which can help them really easily reflect on the things to feel grateful for and happy about. Each day has an uplifting or positive thought provoking quote. When things are tough, sometimes finding those small, every day moments like “hey, I got dressed!”, “I smiled at someone!” or “I tried a piece of fruit!” can bring strength, encouragement and pride to little ones who are struggling with these concepts, just like we explored with bravery.
Have you heard of The HappySelf Journal or Find Your Brave? Do you practice something similar at home or school to help boost your child/ren’s self worth and confidence? I’d love to know about it below!