The theme of this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is “Express Yourself”

How can we encourage children and young people to feel more confident to express how they are feeling?

Building Self Awareness

This is stage one. We can only choose to express how we are feeling healthily if we have noticed that feeling arriving in our body in time.

Sometimes a feeling arrives in one big moment, all at once. Often a feeling arrives in our body gradually and grows little by little.

Where do you feel this feeling you have? Is it in your stomach? In your head? In your arms/legs? What kind of feeling is it? Is it a warm and soft feeling or is it a cold and prickly feeling? Is it sticking in one place in your body or is it zipping around?

Try taking a regular “how am I feeling” check. You could try this using a feelings thermometer up on the wall. As you look at it or walk past it, just take a brief moment to notice any feelings you might have in your body. Be curious about what you find and think about whether at this very moment you are feeling in the green zone, the orange zone or the red zone?

What settles me when I have a big feeling in my body?

Try to think of 5 things which might help you to settle, for example:

  • breathing in counting to 7 and out counting to 11

  • having a walk around

  • playing music

  • being in the fresh air

  • doing a crazy dance

  • making something

  • drawing

Experiment until you have found 5 things which seem to work well for you. Fix these 5 things in your memory by allocating one to each finger on one of your hands. When you are noticing a feeling in your body which is uncomfortable or threatening to overwhelm you – look at your hand a pick one of your strategies to try.

If you still feel overwhelmed...

For the days when it feels really hard to settle yourself, and you might have tried your strategies and still feel overwhelmed, think of 5 people you could turn to to help you.

This might be a family member, a friend, an adult in school.

Allocate one finger on your other hand for each of these 5 people, so you remember them.