In recent times, adult mental health has become a trending topic. But, what about your kids? A survey conducted by the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) in 2019 has found that a total of 424,000 children in Malaysia suffer from mental health problems. With the pandemic forcing us to practise isolation, the lack of interaction with friends and the outside world might just be the reason for the increasing number of children with mental illness.
Often, kids are not able to recognise these problems regarding their mental well-being. As a parent, providing support and guidance is key to helping them apprehend this matter within themselves from a young age. Your child’s mental health is just as important as yours, and the sooner they learn about it, the better.
Last week was Children’s Mental Health Week, but it is important to keep the conversation going. Here are some of the books that you could read with your kids to introduce the subject matter to them, thus helping them to understand their mental and emotional well-being.
1. M is for Mindfulness: An Alphabet Book of Calm by Carolyn Suzuki
Kids are easily distracted which means they have trouble with focus and concentration. This cannot be a good thing especially when they start to lose focus in class. Mindfulness could be an instrument that will assist them stay focused when doing something. In simple words, mindfulness is the practise of being aware of where, what and how we are doing. M is for Mindfulness: An Alphabet Book of Calm by Carolyn Suzuki gives a gentle introduction to mindfulness to young children, in which it encourages children to pay attention to their breathing, to think of their emotions as something that will pass, and being aware of the present moment.
Get the book M is for Mindfulness here
2. Peppa Loves Yoga by Peppa Pig
If you have a Gen Z in your household, chances are you would be more than familiar with the Brit cartoon, Peppa Pig. What better way to introduce yoga to your little ones than through Peppa Pig, right? Yoga has been scientifically proven to be an important tool that helps with mental health. The breathing, the concentration and the poses can be easily learned by kids. In Peppa Loves Yoga, Peppa is expecting a visitor, Miss Rabbit, who would teach the children how to calm down and relax with yoga. The eye-catching illustrations, coupled with easy-to-follow educational story lines will surely be a treat for your kids.
Get the book Peppa Loves Yoga here.
3. Pablo: Pablo's Feelings by Pablo
“Sometimes, your face doesn't show how you are feeling,” is a frequent challenge for parents with autistic children. Parenting a child with autism can be overwhelming as they need special attention from you. Autistic children have their own way of interacting and their social skills are different from a normal child. Pablo: Pablo’s Feelings by Pablo tells the tale of a mother who interprets her autistic son’s expression differently from what he actually desires. As he sees the world in a different view, Pablo comes up with a way to convey his feelings together with his friends, the Book Animals.
Get the Pablo Book here.
4. What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety by Dawn Huebner
Like adults, kids worry too. Children generally worry about their changing bodies, exams, grades and fitting in with their friends. Research shows that one of the causes of depression among kids is their social circle. Their worries about being left out or getting bullied can be hard to handle gracefully. What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety is suitable for children between 6 to 12, featuring information and exercises for kids who are coping with excessive stress, worry, anxiety, and fears. On top of writing and drawing activities, it also includes practical exercises and techniques to reduce anxiety and worry.
Get the book Worry Too Much here.
5. When Sophie Gets Angry—Really Really Angry by Molly Bang
Everyone gets angry once in a while. Anger is a healthy emotion in response to a threat that we feel against us. Kids are no stranger to that emotion, but the way they express themselves might be different from us, adults. Tantrums and meltdowns are typical for a growing child but they should be taught to express their feelings the right way. When Sophie Gets Angry—Really Really Angry portrays an angry child who runs into the woods and climbs up a tree to calm her mind. This book describes a reason Sophie gets angry and how she deals with it before she is ready to confront her family.
Get the book Sophie Gets Angry here.
6. When Sophie's Feelings are Really, Really Hurt by Molly Bang
It is universally acknowledged that children are sensitive beings, which means, their feelings get hurt easily. As parents, you would know how to help them resolve their emotional hurts. However, it is also very important that your kids learn about why they get hurt and how they can deal with such feelings. A sequel to When Sophie Gets Angry, Molly Bang once again pays respect to children and their emotions in her book When Sophie's Feelings are Really, Really Hurt. Bang aims to guide a hurtful child how to face their feelings and how they can convey those emotions to those who hurt them.
Get the book Sophie's Feelings here.
7. No Worries! by Sharie Coombes
The objective of mindfulness is to regulate our emotions by reducing stress, anxiety and depression with its ultimate goal is to make us feel happy and content. This practice which involves being aware of our thoughts and surroundings is a skill that anyone can learn and benefit from, including your little ones. This therefore can be tackled in a light manner as proposed by No Worries!. This book provides a number of activities for young people who sometimes feel anxious or stressed. The colourful pages, accompanied by illustrations will allow kids to exercise their creativity and imagination that can move them towards self-discovery.
Get the book No Worries here.
8. My Strong Mind: A Story About Developing Mental Health by Niels Van Hove
As children grow older, challenges are inevitable and throwing tantrums cannot be the only way to deal with problems. Thus, it is important that parents teach their kids how to handle every problem in an appropriate manner in order to prepare them for the real world. As the title suggests, My Strong Mind: A Story About Developing Mental Health tells the story of a girl named Kate, who applies a positive attitude as she deals with difficulties on a daily basis. This book aspires to enlighten parents and children about mental toughness. Positive self-talk, accepting failure as a learning experience and practicing gratitude are just some of the tips presented in the book.
Get the book My Strong Mind here