ASK THE EX­PERT

I’M WOR­RIED ABOUT MY TEENAGER’S MEN­TAL HEALTH

South Wales Evening Post - - FAMILY HEALTH -

sat­is­fy­ing about fold­ing the pa­per ac­cor­dion-style, set­ting to work with a pair of scis­sors and then un­curl­ing your fin­ished army of pa­per men.

As well as be­ing fun for kids, the open­ing and clos­ing mo­tion of cut­ting with scis­sors is par­tic­u­larly good at help­ing them de­velop the small mus­cles in their hands.

While pa­per dolls are pretty cool on their own, with some crayons and biodegrad­able glit­ter, you can make them ex­tra spe­cial by giv­ing them their own faces and sparkly out­fits.

3 LEARN AN IN­STRU­MENT

WHETHER pluck­ing a gui­tar, hit­ting the keys on a pi­ano or sim­ply bang­ing a tam­bourine in time to the beat, the speed and pre­ci­sion needed from fin­gers, hands and palms dur­ing a DIY mu­sic ses­sion is pretty much un­ri­valled. You can start kids young with for­mal lessons, or sim­ply buy some per­cus­sion in­stru­ments and get them rat­tling along to the ra­dio. Sure, it might make an un­ruly racket for an hour or so, but re­mem­ber – all mu­si­cal ge­niuses have to start some­where.

4 CRE­ATE MOD­ELS WITH PLAYDOUGH

AH PLAYDOUGH – the eter­nal marker of youth. From palm­ing and flat­ten­ing to fork­ing and mould­ing, there’s so much this colour­ful dough can be sculpted into.

If you re­ally can’t bear to part with the ipad, there are loads of creative fol­low-along tu­to­ri­als on Youtube, that can show you how to make ev­ery­thing from burg­ers to di­nosaurs.

QMY 15-year-old daugh­ter used to be very happy and ef­fi­cient, but lately she seems like a typ­i­cal moody teenager and can’t seem to fo­cus or get en­thu­si­as­tic about any­thing. What can I do?

ASUE ROGERS, a men­tal health and emo­tional well­be­ing ex­pert at Ac­tion for Chil­dren, leads the Blues Pro­gramme, the first Uk-wide early help scheme for 15 to 18-year-olds in sec­ondary schools. The scheme is part of the char­ity’s Build Sound Minds cam­paign, which en­cour­ages pos­i­tive con­ver­sa­tion and good men­tal health.

Sue, right, says: “Make time to talk and lis­ten. Teenagers don’t al­ways want to talk, and it’s im­por­tant to re­spect her space. If she’s anx­ious, let her know you’re there if she needs you.

“Try to get into the habit of hav­ing chats about how things are go­ing in gen­eral. The more you talk and lis­ten, the sooner your daugh­ter will know she can come to you with prob­lems.

“Get her to spot neg­a­tive thoughts. If she’s strug­gling with low self-es­teem, see if she’s happy to tell you how things are go­ing in her life. You may have no­ticed her say­ing neg­a­tive things about her­self. Ask why she feels that way. Ex­plain that thoughts may not al­ways af­fect re­al­ity, but can af­fect our be­hav­iour. En­cour­age her to start notic­ing neg­a­tive think­ing pat­terns and ques­tion them.

“Help re­duce stress. En­cour­age her to set re­al­is­tic goals and ex­pec­ta­tions, and to see un­cer­tainty as part of life, rather than some­thing to worry about.

“No­tice what ac­tiv­i­ties she finds re­lax­ing, and use th­ese to wind down. Ask her to re­mem­ber to value her­self also.

“If your daugh­ter’s feel­ing lonely, re­mind her it’s a feel­ing, re­lated to num­ber of friends or time spent so­cial­is­ing.

“Cel­e­brate her achieve­ments, too. Help her learn to take on re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and face fears.

“You can also sug­gest she takes a note of how so­cial me­dia us­age af­fects her mood. Could she fo­cus on sites that make her feel pos­i­tive about her­self?”

In the past, you could make the as­sump­tion that stu­dents would leave school able to do cer­tain prac­ti­cal things – cut­ting things out, mak­ing things – that is no longer the case.

Roger Knee­bone, pro­fes­sor of sur­gi­cal ed­u­ca­tion at Im­pe­rial Col­lege Lon­don

Get sculpt­ing with Playdough

Make time to talk with your teen

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