Guest post by Jennifer Dawson
1 in 6 children experience mental health issues, and many never receive the proper attention or treatment, according to the University of Michigan. However, as parents become aware of this predicament, they start looking for effective ways to create and support positive mental health habits at home. One simple solution may be literally at your child’s fingertips. From enjoying creative hobbies such as sewing or scrapbooking to getting their hands wonderfully dirty in nature, activities which keep little fingers busy have been proven to help reduce anxiety and boost confidence and self esteem. Such activities are also an important way to develop the fine motor skills that are necessary for so many of life’s everyday tasks.
The benefits of being busy
Research has found that tasks which keep fingers busy can alter the brain’s chemistry, producing a sense of satisfaction and reward. These absorbing, repetitive tasks also help children and adults alike to enter a state of flow, in which day to day worries or distractions are tuned out. This makes these types of activities ideal for anyone with mental health issues, as well as just generally making kids feel happier and better about what they are able to achieve.
Creative projects offer plenty of opportunities to keep fingers busy and minds absorbed. Activities such as model making, painting or sewing help with practicing and developing fine motor skills, which your child will need at school for their handwriting and for everyday tasks such as buttoning shirts or tying shoelaces. If you’re in need of a little creative inspiration, why not sign up to receive regular craft kits or collectibles which your child can decorate and display with pride? Projects which you can do together are also an opportunity to spend time talking without any pressure, which can be another vital release for children with mental health concerns.
Another useful activity for keeping fingers busy is teaching your kids a few practical life skills. Children are often fascinated by these perceived “grown up jobs” and with careful supervision, even little ones can start to learn the basics. With 60% of people unable to change a car tire, and many household items going to landfill rather than being repaired, teaching kids basic skills such as woodwork, car maintenance or mending clothes not only keeps them occupied, but it also sets them up for adult life.
Activities which keep little fingers busy and out of mischief are proven to boost mental health, but they can also help to equip your children with valuable life skills. Whether your child is a budding artist, keen to help you in the garden or curious about how things work in the garage, find small ways to involve them and you could both have a lot of fun. The key to a happy, fulfilling childhood is in your hands.