It’s especially important to encourage positive mental health in children, during those years when they’re developing physically, mentally, and emotionally faster than at any other time of life. Parents, caregivers, and educators play a crucial role in helping children learn to behave, handle their emotions, and cope with fears and anxieties.
Here are some of the best tools to help you support children’s mental and emotional health as they grow and learn.
1. Bouncy the People Trainer
Bouncy the Service Dog is an animated three-legged dog who models resilience and perseverance to help children aged four, five, and six develop the skills and mindset needed for success. Young learners design their own avatars to star in a cartoon story that teaches them how to cope and keep trying when things get tough.
Kids will love it because the activities are fun and challenging and offer rewards. Meanwhile, they are learning critical emotional skills which will lead to success in any challenges they might meet, including making friends, controlling their behavior, and learning to read and count. Several Bouncy apps are available from Ripple Effects, but this free app is a great introduction to its world.
2. Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings
Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings is one of a series of apps from PBS Kids. It helps children aged between two and five to express their feelings through play activities and sing-along songs.
Kids join Daniel from the TV series Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood in a series of games and activities designed to help them to identify and practice skills like calming down by taking deep breaths and doing a happy dance when feeling joyful. There are art activities to encourage self-expression and even a Feelings Photo Booth, where children can take pictures of themselves making sad, mad, or happy faces, just like Daniel.
3. Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame
If your preschool child is a Sesame Street fan, Breathe, Think, Do is the perfect resource to help them learn to practice the skills of resilience, task persistence, and self-control. Your child will enjoy interacting with the familiar Sesame Street monster, helping it to solve everyday problems and feel better.
They follow a series of activities, starting with a Breathe With the Monster activity that teaches calming breathing techniques. Then they learn to think of possible strategies for each situation and help the monster choose the best course of action. There’s also a Parent’s Section packed with resources and strategies, and the whole app is available in English and Spanish.
Practicing meditation and mindfulness is a fantastic way to boost your mental health, and one of the best apps for meditating is Calm. If you already use Calm, you may be aware of the extensive Calm Kids section, which you can access from the Discover tab in the app. Calm Kids contains a wealth of resources to teach your children meditation skills, regardless of age.
For the youngest children, there are lullabies and sleep stories. As they grow, they can listen to classic fairy tales and learn to meditate with their favorite characters. From the Minions to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, every child will be able to find something to attract their interest.
There are mindful movement sequences to practice too. And with music and soundscape programs also included, you can easily create a calming atmosphere within your home for your children.
Headspace is an excellent meditation resource you can use with your kids as well as for your own mental health. Like Calm, Headspace contains a huge bank of material to teach your kids meditation skills. Access the Parents and Kids section from the Meditation tab of the app for meditations and bedtime stories for each age range: Under 5, 6–8, and 9–12.
Younger children will love the Sesame Street x Headspace section, where Cookie Monster, Elmo, Rosita, and the gang will teach them to focus, cope with disappointment, and explore their senses. It’s worth noting that Headspace provides excellent resources for mindful parenting, including SOS meditations to help you cope with parenting worries and give you strategies to model good emotional practices for your children.
6. Smiling Mind
Smiling Mind is a mindfulness meditation app that can help you teach your child how to cope with life’s challenges. The app’s Kids section contains categories for children aged 3–12 years old, so it’s easy to navigate to the correct section for your child.
There’s a Sport section, developed in partnership with Cricket Australia, and Back to School and Bite Size sections as well. The best thing about this great resource is that it’s free, making it a perfect way to introduce your children to meditation without committing to a paid subscription.
7. Mindful Powers
Mindful Powers is an award-winning mindfulness app developed in consultation with clinical psychologists. It helps children take control of their emotions with the help of their very own character, called a Flibbertigibbet, who struggles to contain its feelings. They soothe it by interacting with it, and as they teach it to relax, they learn mindfulness and relaxation skills for themselves.
Ultimately, with the help of Flibbertigibbet, your child will learn not to be overcome by large emotions. Children will love looking after their very own virtual creature with this fantastic aid for developing resilience and emotional intelligence.
Download: Mindful Powers for iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)
Another way you can support your child’s mental health is by encouraging them to use a mood tracker and journal. They can do this easily using an app like Moody, which is suitable for kids because they can record their mood through a few taps rather than typing long paragraphs.
Free to try for up to 15 entries, Moody is simple to use. Choose from over 1,000 icons to record mood, activities, and even the weather. There’s an option to add photos and log additional notes, but in essence, this tool enables mood tracking to take just a few seconds of your child’s day.
You and your child can access the Stats page to show graphs of how moods have changed over time, with powerful filter tools to let you dig deeper if anything causes concern.
Daylio is another great tool for mood tracking and journaling. Again, an emoji-based approach allows you or your child to record their mood in seconds. You can also track all kinds of activities, such as food, chores, and sleep.
Set up and record the habits you’d like your child to practice, then review and reflect on their progress regularly using the detailed Stats function. The app is infinitely customizable, too, right down to the color scheme. Kids will love the colorful approach, and you can easily track and reward their successes. For more information, read our guide on how to use Daylio.
Use Technology to Help and Support Children’s Mental and Emotional Health
A greater understanding of mental health and well-being means parents and caregivers can draw on an array of excellent tools to teach children how to identify, understand, and express their feelings and emotions.
Hopefully, this will help them grow up to be healthy, well-adjusted adults with positive self-care habits that will last a lifetime.