Children’s mental health is paramount for them to lead happy, empowered lives. It also helps to prepare them for later life. We chat with Dr Sona Kaur from Serenity Psychology about neurodiversity, the summer holidays, children’s mental health and how we can help them keep it in tip top shape!
Please could you introduce yourself to our readers and explain what you do?
I am a Clinical Psychologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Queen Square, London and run my own private practice. Specialising in working with various mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, EUPD, and complex trauma. I am registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and have experience in neuropsychological assessment as well as treatment for conditions like epilepsy, ASD and ADHD. I believe in incorporating creative approaches like art and music therapy to help individuals address their emotional conflicts.
Mental health is so important, to us all, but sometimes the focus is purely on adults. Why is good children’s mental health vital?
Children’s good mental health is crucial because it lays the foundation for their overall well-being and development. Positive mental health in childhood fosters emotional resilience, healthy coping mechanisms, and the ability to form positive relationships, which can have lasting effects into adulthood.
What is the best way to support positive mental health in children?
Supporting positive mental health in children involves creating a nurturing and supportive environment where they feel safe to express their feelings and emotions. Encouraging open communication, active listening, and providing validation can help build their emotional intelligence. Additionally, promoting physical activity, healthy eating, and sufficient rest, play vital roles in maintaining their mental well-being.
Do you feel that supporting neurodiverse children’s mental health would be different? If so, how?
Supporting the mental health of neurodiverse children may require a tailored approach. Their experiences and needs can differ from neurotypical children. It’s essential to understand their unique challenges and strengths. Providing them with appropriate resources, therapy, and accommodations to foster their emotional well-being and overall development.
The summer holidays are in full swing, what advice do you have for parents in coping mentally for the six weeks ahead?
Preparing for the summer holidays involves creating a structured and balanced routine that includes both leisure and learning activities. Setting realistic expectations and being flexible can help reduce stress. Also, engaging in open communication with children about their feelings and concerns during the holidays is vital..
Do you have any tips on how we can help keep children’s mental health in tip-top shape over the holidays?
Encouraging children to engage in outdoor activities, spend time in nature, and participating in creative endeavours like art and music can be beneficial for their mental health during the holidays. Balancing screen time with physical activities and maintaining regular sleep schedules are also essential.
You’ve suggested that nature-based mindful activities would be great for children over the holidays, could you tell us more about that please?
Nature-based mindful activities involve spending time outdoors, connecting with nature, and engaging in mindful practices such as meditation or deep breathing. Research shows that these activities can reduce stress, improve mood, and enhance overall well-being, making them great options for children during the holidays.
We’ve heard you mention laughter yoga before; we’ve not heard of this but are intrigued! What is laughter yoga, and how does it benefit children’ and their children’s mental health?
Laughter yoga is a unique practice that combines laughter exercises with yogic breathing techniques. It promotes spontaneous and contagious laughter, even without jokes or humour. Laughter yoga can boost endorphins, reduce stress, and improve overall emotional well-being in children, making it a fun and beneficial activity for their mental health.
Do you have any other top tips for our readers regarding children’s mental health?
Remember to prioritise self-care as parents, as your well-being also influences your child’s mental health. Be present and actively engage with your child, and don’t hesitate to seek professional support if needed. Lastly, create a loving and supportive environment where open communication about feelings and emotions is encouraged.
Would you suggest anything different to parents of neurodiverse children activity-wise?
For parents of neurodiverse children, it’s essential to consider their specific interests, sensory needs, and abilities when planning activities. Tailor activities to accommodate their individual strengths and challenges and seek activities that align with their sensory preferences. Additionally, provide a safe and understanding space where they feel comfortable expressing themselves.
The Wonder Checklist! We believe self-care is vital to great mental health. What is your go to self-care activity and why?
My go-to self-care activity involves spending quality time with my family and friends, exploring the wonders of nature through long walks or picnics, and taking breaks to travel and unwind.
The Wonder Playlist! What song/artist do you find uplifting and listening to it/them boosts your mood?
For uplifting music, I enjoy listening to Punjabi cultural music, as it connects me to my roots and boosts my mood with its vibrant and energetic rhythms. I especially love listening to the music by the legendary Sidhu Moosewale.
The Wonder Bookshelf! Do you have book recommendations for our readers? It can be a fiction title, non-fiction, something to help them learn more about the topic at hand or even one of your own books.
One book that I find incredibly beneficial for understanding the brain and relationships is “The Whole-Brain Child” by Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson. It offers valuable insights on how to nurture emotional intelligence in children.
This was such an interesting interview packed with tips, we thoroughly enjoyed it. You can find out more about Dr Sona Kaur, founder of Serenity Psychology on her website.
What tips do you have for good mental health in children? Do you do anything special over the holidays to help them with this? Let us know over on TikTok, Instagram, Threads, Facebook and Twitter, we’d love to hear from you!