Mother’s Day Gift To America’s Moms From Devereux: 50 Free Resilience-Building Strategies For Your Children
VILLANOVA, Pa., May 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — The stresses of daily life are abundant for parents in today’s down economy. No longer are families immune to a job loss or even the experience of a family member being away on military service. While adults have a difficult time enough in coping, mental health professionals caution parents to ask themselves: how are these stresses impacting our nation’s children? Experts at Devereux, a leading national nonprofit mental and behavioral healthcare organization, caution that young children may have trouble dealing with stress until they acquire protective factors that help them succeed and carry on through difficult or stressful times – in other words, resilience.
“It can be difficult for a parent to acquire resilience, let alone a young child,” says Robert Kreider, president and CEO of Devereux. “As we observe National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day on May 9 and Mother’s Day this weekend, we encourage every parent to ask themselves – how resilient is my child?”
Just in time for Mother’s Day, Devereux offers 50 free resilience-building activities and strategies from their award-winning publication, Socially Strong, Emotionally Secure. All 50 activities are free and available for download online at www.devereux.org, and each fun and easy activity includes a brief explanation of how it builds protective factors in young children, what materials are needed and step-by-step instructions.
Dr. Elyn Saks, acclaimed professor of mental health law and recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Grant Award recently met with Devereux experts and talked about her own battle with mental illness and resilience. Devereux’s Paul LeBuffe, Co-Director of the Devereux Center for Resilient Children (DCRC), says Saks’ remarkable story reminded him why Devereux must continue to make mental health a priority, and provide knowledge and solutions to parents. DCRC works with child care professionals, communities and families to promote the social and emotional health of all children, focusing on building young children’s well-being and resilience, even when they are under stress.
“As a parent, you have many opportunities to help your child develop protective factors though everyday routines, activities, experiences and play,” says LeBuffe. “That’s why we are offering these 50 free resilience-building activities. We want parents to put on their ‘social and emotional lenses’ to see what skills they’re already building in their child, and where there is an opportunity to improve overall mental health.”
Some of these activities include (a full list is available at www.devereux.org):
Activity: Give Me a Hand
“Give Me a Hand,” which is designed to help a young child recognize feelings in others and themselves. This is the beginning of developing empathy. The activity involves drawing a happy face with washable, tempera paint on the back of a child’s hand, and a sad face on the other. Parents can then help their child think of situations that might make them feel happy or sad. Parents ask their child to hold up the appropriate hand to show how they would feel in each situation. Parents can incorporate this activity into story time, by using books and magazines that show children with happy or sad faces, and ask their child to imagine what might have happened in the story to make the person pictured feel that way.
Activity: Where Does it Go?
The “Where Does it Go?” activity reinforces the importance of organization in a child’s environment. Clutter and disorganization can confuse children about expectations and about their own safety and care. When parents involve their child in the clean-up process, they send the message that they care about their space, and want their child to care too. Storing toys on low, open shelves offers an open invitation for a young child to access what they need to be imaginative and playful. In this activity, parents take a bin or basket, labeled “where does it go?” and discreetly collect a few things from shelves in their child’s play area. Parents then present the basket to their child, and ask them to help find the homes for the lost toys. New toys or materials can be introduced this way, and children can practice picking up while at the same time developing their initiative and self-regulation.
For more information on Devereux, its mental healthcare programs, and its work over the last 100 years, please visit www.devereux.org.
Devereux is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit behavioral healthcare providers for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities, behavioral disorders and mental illness. Founded in 1912 by Philadelphia school teacher Helena Trafford Devereux and celebrating its 100th Anniversary, the organization offers research-based assessment and treatment programs for children and adults that build on the strengths of each individual. Devereux employs more than 6,000 staff and operates 15 centers in 11 states, providing services to tens of thousands of individuals and their families every year. For more information, visit www.devereux.org