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Looking after your child’s mental wellbeing: school holiday stressbusters

28 June 2021

School Holidays are supposed to be relaxing. But holidays are also a time when parents may recognise the signs of anxiety or stress in their children.

Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Services Ed LinQ Coordinator Pete-Anne Burns said mental health difficulties don't just affect adults; in fact, they are becoming increasingly common in children and young people.

"Holidays are a great time to introduce children and young people to activities that encourage good mental health and wellbeing," Pete said.

"Activities that encourage what we call a flow state, that is a sense of focus that results from absolute immersion in an activity, are excellent for mental wellbeing," she said.

"Being 'in the zone' is a great way to relieve stress and connect with your children."

Pete recommends getting back to nature, art and music to reconnect.

"Art-based activities like diamond paintings are available at low cost; nature-based pursuits such as collecting fallen leaves, twigs or flowers, treasure hunts, making mandalas, or rock painting are great fun and require focus.

"Going for a walk in the park local park at the same time will also burn up some of that excess energy," she said.

"You can also use music as a tool to challenge yourself and children to stay in the moment.

"Can you have your child drum the rhythm of their favourite song on different surfaces around the house?

"Or try and play a musical instrument 'by ear' rather than googling the notes?

"There's been many studies that link music to improved academic performance and better mental health," she said.

Pete said parents may want to know when to seek professional help for their children.

"Look out for highly emotional responses to everyday situations; children may be tearful or unable to cope with shopping, crowds or family outings.

"Aggressive behaviour and difficulties with attention and concentration can also indicate that your child may need some extra help," she said.

If you have concerns about your child's mental wellbeing, the first step is to see a GP or paediatrician to seek a referral to an appropriate service.

The Metro South community can access local mental health services for information and assistance in times of mental health crisis 24 hours a day via a centralised phone number, 1300 MH Call (1300 64 22 55). The number is not a replacement for emergency services or support services for current consumers. People requiring emergency assistance should continue to call Triple 0.

Last updated 25 November 2021
Last reviewed 27 December 2020

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