Sometimes, the simplest activities make for the most developmentally appropriate ones. Encourage kids to engage in learning activities and bonding experiences that promote emotional, social and mental health. Activities that promote sharing ideas, working together and thinking creatively target both mental and emotional development.
Brain teasers sharpen and challenge cognitive skills, such as reflex, memory, literacy and focus for children and grown-ups alike, and can even boost academic performance. Brain teasers are a healthy workout for the mind and seem like challenging little games, which make them enjoyable to complete. They can promote healthy emotions, such as a sense of accomplishment, and can foster teamwork when played with other people.
Bonding exercises teach children how to replace fears, worries and other preconceived notions with healthy emotions, such as camaraderie and trust. They also promote positive, meaningful relationships with others, which is healthy for both mental and emotional well-being. A "trust fall," which requires one person to fall backward, trusting his spotters to catch him, is an effective exercise for fostering bonding and building trust. Make sure trust falls are done on a padded surface, such as a thick carpet or rubberized playground mat, when conducting the exercise with little ones. A "blind walk," where one person leads her blindfolded partner, is another type of bonding exercise that can promote mental and emotional wellness.
Family game night provides all kinds of opportunities for kids’ mental and emotional development. Quality time with parents and siblings promotes healthy cognitive and social skills -- such as communication, collaboration and problem-solving -- which support a child’s mental well-being. Objectives and challenges associated with video and tabletop game play promote specific cognitive skills, such as hand-eye coordination, attention, strategy, focus and memory. The bonding that occurs with cooperative game play and socialization promotes a sense of closeness and encourages healthy relationships.
Arts and Crafts
Like games, arts and crafts activities done among a group of friends or family members encourage a child’s social development, which in turn promotes mental well-being and emotional growth. Collaborating with others on different arts and crafts projects encourages children to share ideas and listen to others, while also encouraging friendship and establishing trust. Arts and crafts projects are also beneficial activities for a child to do on his own, because they promote creative thinking and problem-solving skills. Arts and craft activities also support healthy emotional development by encouraging self-expression, individuality and a sense of pride in kids’ work.
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