It’s no secret that we are living in uncertain times. If you’re anything like us, you’re also sick of hearing people talk about it? Let’s actually do something to talk your mind off it. And more importantly, for a happy child, take your their mind off it too!
A happy child engages with reading
You will (I’m sure) be familiar with that warm feeling you get when you read a book with your child (or even better on your own). Well, that hasn’t gone overlooked and reading really can be like releasing the pressure valve on our children’s minds.
Don’t just take it from me though. The research conducted by The National Literacy Trust in 2018 says it all.
Based on a survey of 49,047 UK school children aged 8 to 18, the report found that:
- Children that engage with reading and writing are happier with their lives.
- Boys who are engaged with reading and writing have higher levels of mental wellbeing than their peers.
This may well be information that you already know. You also probably notice this when you read bedtime stories and see your child relaxing (and maybe even nod off) whilst reading!
How can reading help with my child’s mental health?
- Quality time together – when you’re reading, there’s no other distraction. It’s time for you as a family to enjoy and share one thing. Better and improved mental wellbeing is one of the key benefits of reading.
- Develop empathy – now more than ever, your child needs to be able to understand their own emotions and those of others. Books give children the opportunity to discuss a range of issues and emotions. If they’re struggling with something in particular like friendship issues, you could choose a book that talks about that specifically.
- Language, literacy and cognitive development – having access to books with a range of issues and characters, gives your child the vocabulary to communicate about any problems they may be having.
- Greater concentration – believe it or not, our children’s concentration levels are not what they were. Reading for a prolonged period of time improves this dramatically.
- More confidence – this is one of the most important benefits (in my opinion). Your child faces so many hurdles every day that threaten their self-belief. Confidence is an essential trait of a happy child. Becoming confident with reading will make your child have a positive outlook on all aspects of their schooling. We all know, knowledge is power, right?
Does reading = a happy child?
Reading is not a magical cure for everything. It may not be the only solution to helping with your child’s well-being. But it will certainly be a great addition.
Here are some ways you can have a go at exploring this more at home:
- Introduce new topics – if you suspect there’s something specific troubling your child, you could choose a book related to that issue. For example, if they’re worried about friendships, ‘The Rainbow Fish’ is an excellent choice.
- Read to your child – it doesn’t matter how old we are, the joy of being read to never leaves us. Even if your child is older and quite a good reader, reading to them (and with silly voices and actions) will bring such joy to you and them.
- Talk about what they’re reading at home and school – your child may not volunteer much about what happened at school but it’s worth asking about what books they’re reading in English. Most books that are studied have lots of discussion points which you can develop with them at home.
- Ask questions – if your child has access to an electronic device, more likely than not they will have seen an advert or headline that was a little confusing to them. You don’t have to be nosey about it just ask them something like ‘have you seen anything that made you worried lately?’
- Limit screen time – we are all trying to limit and fight our children on the amount of time they spend on electronics. Reading is the perfect solution. If you can avoid reading on a device too, it means they are completely free of those devilish little devices (even if it’s just 15 minutes).
Reading is a powerful and rewarding skill. Books can be your child’s friend and comfort in a world that feels like anything but.