Ten Top Tips for Introducing Wellbeing to Your Child
Time-poor and stressed-out. As parents, a lot of us feel this way at times – but we’re shocked to learn that our children often feel that way, too.
Fortunately, as the pace of modern life continues to evolve, so has our understanding of how to deal with it. Wellbeing, far from being a trendy indulgence, offers parents and their children the means to open up to improved mental states through a whole plethora of interesting and often fun activities.
The following ten wellbeing strategies were compiled one busy lunchtime by the Senior Pastoral Team at Oxford High School – an institution with a long and progressive history of nurturing the whole child on her journey towards fulfilment. Each one is geared towards engaging young people of all ages in their own wellbeing. Easy to pick up and straightforward to use, the suggestions will provide the young person in your life with the time and space to start a conversation, to create and express themselves, or simply just to be, instead of always doing.
1. Get Colouring.
The recent fad for adult colouring books can be explained with lots of science, but the fact is that colouring just works. It works brilliantly with little ones (students at our Junior School love spending fifteen minutes chilling out with their colouring). But it also works really well with older children (and there is nothing quite so charming as watching a very ‘meh’ teenager sit down and get completely engrossed in his or her colouring).
2. Keep a Bullet Journal.
If you haven’t heard of them before, bullet journals are basically scrapbooks evolved. Just google 'bullet journal' and you’ll see what we mean. You’ll also find tons of different ideas for different types of content that will inspire children of all ages – and get them thinking about their own lives. (It doesn’t hurt to buy a shiny new notebook, because we all like shiny and new!)
3. Go Outside and Notice Stuff.
Instead of just telling your kid to go outside and get some fresh air, why not ask them to go for a walk and take three photos, each of something different or unusual – something that tells a story (if this is with a younger child, simply go with him or her). The idea here is to get your child to engage with the world around him or her, rather than always rushing through places on the way to somewhere else. Afterwards, discuss the photos with your child – why were they interesting? What did they learn?
4. Start a Gratitude Journal.
Ask your child to list five things each week for which he or she is grateful (it can be helpful to think of them as “gifts”). Each entry should be short, just a sentence. Over time, these moments of gratitude will start to map out all the good moments, encouraging your child to see the patterns and learn how to recreate them.
5. Start a ‘Memory Board’.
Ask your son or daughter to go through his or her photos and choose five pictures that make them happy. Once you’ve got five, suggest printing them out and sticking them somewhere visible (the fridge, back of a door) as a reminder of where and when your child feels happiest. You can repeat this each month for a year, keeping the previous months in plastic folders. At the end of the year, ask which photograph is their favourite and why…and maybe turn the whole thing into a jigsaw together (see Retro Relaxation!)
6. Bake Something.
Many of us watch baking on television as a proxy for doing it ourselves. But there is nothing quite so surprising or wholesome as getting something out of the oven that you yourself have made. It’s just the same for our children.
7. Try Something New.
Trying new exercise is a great way to shake off a bad mood. Ask your daughter or son to research a new exercise class – it might be Hot Yoga, Zumba, Kick-Boxing or Aqua-Aerobics – just so long as it’s different and catches their attention.
8. Start a Conversation Book.
This idea is great for starting a dialogue about sensitive issues. Place a book in a previously agreed location that only you and your child know about. They can then go and write in it if they have any difficult questions or are worried about something which they feel unable to start a conversation about (e.g. contraception, sexual health, etc.); all you have to do is check it at agreed intervals and respond.
9. Have a Musical Moment.
Sit and listen to a piece of music (of your child’s choice) with him or her. You don’t have to talk, just listen.
10. Teen Top Tips
Suggest your teen adds to this list; what other “mental wealth” do they have to draw on? Start a conversation about this stuff – you’ll be surprised and impressed by what they bring.
Oxford High School has been a progressive force in girls’ education since 1885. In recent years, it has shown a tireless commitment to delivering innovative and relevant pastoral care that nurtures the whole child through success, challenge and adversity.