Every day you hear about fantastic new children’s wellness initiatives, so why are our children still inactive, unhappy and even unwell? What is really going on with our children and their wellbeing? And how can we create more happy habits for kids?
In an age where we’re constantly on-the-go and everyone wants to document their every move on Instagram (even young kids) – now seems to be just the right time to pull the emergency break and slow down.
It feels as if we’ve forgotten how to enjoy the moments of doing nothing, and to feel good about it. People often separate children’s wellness from adults, but society and its values, crises and happenings affect us all. The western world has changed; children no longer run around and play the way that they used to. Everything is more organised, structured, supervised and lead by adults.
We don’t believe the world is a more dangerous place today; it’s just different. We tend to live more isolated lives. Gone are the days when generations of families would live together in one area where everyone knew everyone.
As more of us move away from close family into bigger fast-paced cities, many couples and single parents are often left looking after their children without much help. They say “it takes a village to raise a child”, but for many people that village or support network just isn’t there.
In addition to this, times have changed and as it’s no longer considered safe to let children’s run outside or explore their neighbourhood with friends, parents have had to create more structured activities. Some of these can be great, but a lot of children are missing out on simply running around outdoors.
We have also have adopted a very goal driven approach to life, we want to be successful in every aspect of our lives and for many, a large part of that involves sharing those successes on social media. These ideals are transferred onto how we treat our children as parents want the best for them; they are inclined to push them to go to dozens of extra-curricular activities and classes.
While it’s great for parents to care and want to give their children as many wonderful opportunities as possible, it’s also important for them to have time to just be: be silly, be fun, be kids.
When we look at kids’ wellness, we tend to look at it from an adult’s perspective; believing that kids need the same as adults. Whereas actually children are perfectly fine as they are, they are naturally healthy. They don’t need yoga to be more flexible, they don’t need meditation to be creative and so on.
Where we, as adults, need to exercise and heal and re-do what went wrong, kids do not. In that respect, kids’ wellness is quite easy compared to adults. Kids’ wellness is much more about creating and maintaining a safe, happy and content environment for them to grow up in.
So what do children really need then? According to modern psychologists and research there are a few important key factors needed: connection, attunement, trust, autonomy and a healthy divide between love and, in their later years, sexuality. Children and teenagers need to know they are loved and safe and can trust their family and friends.
A recent Telegraph newspaper article about why children are unhappy included comments from expert in child psychiatry, Dr Mike Shooter. Among issues such as social media and bullying, Shooter also highlighted the breakdown of communities and family units as a problem.
“Community has broken down,” agrees Dr Shooter. “It’s right across cultures and right across class. You see the same levels of loneliness, unhappiness, anxiety and depression in children in middle-class gated communities [as you do in economically deprived households]. Kids spend more time talking to each other on their phone and less and less time doing things together.”
In order to steer away from stress and create more ‘happy habits’ for our kids we would like to encourage less structured activities. School days are already quite long and children feel the pressure of exams more than ever before; so we urge parents to not organise as many after-school activities in order to allow children more time to run around freely and enjoy time without having to achieve anything.
We would also like to encourage everyone to act more like grandparents to the children around us. We once heard a child express why they loved spending time with grandma –“Because she bakes and she listens and she knows what I mean when I say wait”.
So, what about Kids Wellness in the spa industry? Can we take the lead? Instead of separating families during precious vacation time, with kids’ clubs and adults’ only areas, can we create family-bonding spaces and time? Instead of spa suites, can we have family camp suites, with hammocks, waterslides, meditations cushions and fire pits, where families can just bond, connect and be naturally playful, without any aims of achieving anything, but time together.
Can we support parents of today? Teach them about meditation and the importance of taking care of oneself in order to have enough energy to spend quality time with the most valuable we have in life – our kids?
It’s #timetogetbored and for us to realise that it is actually healthy for our brains, for our creativity and for our wellbeing.
So next Sunday, why not make a family camp at home? Cancel all booked activities, hide phones and tablets, eat dinner for breakfast, have dinner in pyjamas, play board games or cards, and just spend time together.
Please share #timetogetbored and #newhappyhabits to encourage more family time and help our kids de-stress, and remember they’re kids.
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