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6 Of The Best Books And Apps To Help Children With Their Mental Health

child writes with pencil scaled

The coronavirus pandemic prompted an increase in stress and anxiety in children, meaning referrals to mental health services are on the rise.

But the children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has warned mental health services don’t currently have the capacity to meet current needs.

Solutions at a wider scale need to be sought, but as a parent or carer, you can independently introduce your child to resources that may help support them. 

Here are just a few that could help you build an at-home mental health toolkit for any child that’s struggling right now…

1. Happy Confident Me Journal

Developed by a psychotherapist and parenting expert, this colourfully illustrated journal – aimed at kids aged 7-12 – provides children with different writing prompts every day.

The writing tasks are designed to help children better understand their emotions, find the language they need to discuss their feelings and reflect on positive things that happened in their day.

2. Headspace For Kids

Popular mindfulness app headspace has dedicated activities for kids that hone in on five different themes: calm, focus, kindness, sleep and wake up.

The meditation-based exercises can be customised for three different age groups (under 5s, 6-8, and 9-12).

The easy-to-follow audio guides prompt children to practice breathing exercises, visualisations and even try some focus-based meditation.

3. You Are Positively Awesome

Older children struggling with self-worth might benefit from this colourful and supportive book by Stacey Swift, packed with helpful reminder that although they might not feel their best every day, that’s OK.

From practical tips on being kind to yourself, to space to create a pie chart of ‘Things That Help on Tough Days’, this book is a wonderful resource for adding a bit of sparkle back into a troubled mindset.

4. The Worrysaurus

We all have days when our fears seem to get the better of us, and kids are no different.

Aimed at children aged 1- 5, The Worrysaurus is a tale about a little dinosaur who finds it difficult to switch off from his anxious thoughts and live in the moment.

It visualises how anxieties can grow, and reassuringly tells children how the Worrysaurus manages to contain his fears.

It’s a particularly helpful resource for parents who are wondering how to approach the complicated subject of anxiety with young children.

5. Breathe, Think and Do

This free smartphone app features Sesame Street characters and teaches kids how to use breath as a coping mechanism for managing and overcoming anxiety.

While playing the app, children need to help a frustrated Sesame Street monster calm down by taking long, deep breaths.

6. CBT Toolbox for Children and Adolescents

If your children respond well to homework and like to take a practical approach to learning, this Cognitive Behavioural Therapy workbook contains hundreds of worksheets, exercises, and activities to help treat a number of different mental health issues.

Some might not be applicable to everyone – like trauma, ADHD and autism – but there are plenty of practical exercises to help with general anxiety, depression and low mood.