7 Mental Health Activities to Keep Kids Happy This Summer
The school year ends, and summer begins-which means parents will have to find new ways to keep their kids busy and happy. This can be especially difficult if they are struggling with mental health issues such as depression, ADHD, or anxiety.
Luckily, though, parents don't have to look far when it comes to healthy activities to keep their kids mentally healthy during the summer with coping skills/activities to reduce boredom, anxiety, and depression.
1) Try fun crafts that focus on building cognitive skills
It's important for kids (and adults) to continue learning in their free time during summer break. If your kids are bored and anxious about what they should be doing, try an activity that focuses on cognitive skills like crafting.
Crafting is a creative way for kids to build problem-solving and critical thinking skills while spending time with family members or friends. For example, scrapbooking gives kids a chance to think creatively by designing collages or scrapbooks from pieces of torn paper; woodworking helps develop spatial-reasoning skills when children must sand off a jagged edge of a wooden block, and baking allows for concentration as children follow recipes carefully so that cookies don't burn.
2) Choose low-pressure competitive activities
Playing board games, going on nature walks and counting how many birds you see, reading a book together-these activities are low-pressure and competitive, which makes them great for kids who struggle with anxiety and depression.
To normal people, it can be hard to see how some of these things can be competitive, but for those that struggle with mental health, they can get depressed by things as simple as missing a shot in basketball. Don't let your child's mental health issues be an excuse for letting him or her slack off though; find ways to exercise and be active that don't cause them to be anxious or depressed.
3) Build a fort outside
There's a reason that kids are told to go outside and play. But during summer, when most kids don't have school, it can be hard for parents to keep them entertained.
A great way to prevent them from bored is by building a fort outside using sheets, chairs, and cushions. Invite your child's friends over and encourage them to collaborate on their own fort creation.
Before you know it, they'll forget that they were ever bored! Just make sure that any structures you build aren't dangerous - small children might want in on the fun but could trip over loose fabric or fall off wobbly tables.
4) Practice mindfulness exercises together
Meditation is one of those activities that seems easier said than done. You can, however, get your kids in on mindfulness and meditation with a little guidance. When you're depressed it can be difficult to do virtually anything. The best thing to do in this situation is to do nothing and meditate!
Many experts suggest practicing mindfulness exercises together as a family because it helps normalize meditation and other mental health activities. It also lowers anxiety over time by getting used to living in the present moment. Having your children practice these things with you will help them see them as something they should do on their own time as well, not just when you tell them they have to.
Start off slow by taking a few minutes out of your day to breathe or meditate together. If your children aren't interested at first, don't force it-let it come naturally from there!
5) Start a Business Together
Getting your kids involved in your work can be a powerful motivator, as well as an opportunity for them to learn something they may not have in school. Plus, you'll have fun together.
Start a business together-your own side hustle-and you'll make money while teaching them about hard work and responsibility. You might even find that it becomes your most rewarding project yet!
6) Stay away from technology
Too much screen time can contribute to or cause mental health issues in kids. If you want your children to be happy and mentally healthy during summer break, limit screen time.
Teach them how to use technology safely by modeling responsible behavior and setting limits that will help them succeed in life. For example, let them know that you'll only allow a certain amount of screen time each day (say an hour) but also make it clear that when they're done with their designated screen time, they're not allowed back on for rest of the day (not even for emergencies).
Make sure you set rules around Internet safety as well.
7) Teach Them How to Cook (or Bake) Something New Every Week
It doesn't have to be fancy, but it does have to be delicious. Cooking is a great way for kids of all ages to learn how to follow directions, measure ingredients, use utensils properly, and more.
Plus, cooking as a family teaches kids how important food is in our lives-not just as something we eat every day but also as something we prepare with love for each other. If baking is more your thing than cooking, there are tons of recipes online that are fun for kids (and adults!) of all ages.