Tech for Developing Mental Strength for Life’s UPS and Downs
Developing Mental Strength
As we discuss health issues related to children, one area that is often overlooked is that of our children’s mental health. Although we do not like to think about our children being stressed, overly worried, or anxious about situations, the fact is that this happens to them just as it happens to us as adults.
When trying to help our children with self-soothing, self-regulation or calming when agitated, whether due to anxiety or a need to feel in control, it is often difficult to know what strategies are helpful. We all acknowledge that there is no “one size fits all” with any approach in education, mental health therapies, or behavior interventions. We, at BridgingApps, however, have gathered a list of apps aimed at helping you and your child manage stress and anxiety. We offer tips for introducing the app to your child, helping them learn to use it effectively, and recommendations for which apps might be helpful for different age levels. Read on to learn more!
For children of all ages, these guidelines for introducing and using the apps effectively can help you get started:
- Try the app out for yourself before introducing it to your child. You are more likely to keep their attention if you know how it works rather than trying to teach them at the same time that you are trying to figure it out.
- Introduce the app to the child as a fun break in routine. Frustration can keep them from being able to take in and process new information, so they are more open to learning when they are not upset.
- Show them a quiet place to practice with the app independently or designate a place where you will work on it together in a quiet area (preferably one that is free of distractions or items that tend to cause frustration/ anxiety). You could say something like, “When you feel angry/frustrated/mad, you can sit here” or similar words dependent upon their age and/or cognitive level.
- After you have determined which app works best for them, try reminding them to use it when they are frustrated and need to calm down or when they are having trouble focusing and need to “reset”.
These recommendations are simply suggestions, depending on your child’s cognitive age, you may want to choose apps from the age range below or above theirs. After deciding which one works for your child, share this information with your child’s teachers and caregivers. Teachers appreciate having information about strategies that work at home. They should be able to easily implement these strategies using whatever devices the classroom already has and a quiet calm down corner. This may also help you to feel reassured that your child has their “tools” to calm down even when they are not with you.
Preschool/ Early Elementary Learners
Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame Street
by Sesame Street
Teaches problem solving and models strategies to work through frustrating situations. The fun app talks the child through helping the character on the screen calm down. They tap the monster’s belly and help him take big breaths and then pop bubbles above his head to help him think of ways to solve his problem.
Singing Fingers hd
By Beginner’s Mind
This calming app allows the user to finger paint with sound. Touch the screen while you make a sound, and colorful paint appears. Touch the paint to play back the sound again. You can paint your own musical instrument and play it, play with your voice, experiment with sounds, or create whatever else you can imagine.
Upper Elementary/Junior High Students
Calm Counter Social Story & Anger Management Tool
by Touch Autism
A visual and audio tool to help people calm down when they are angry or anxious. Includes a social story about anger, and audio/visual tools for calming down. The app is great for individuals diagnosed with autism and adhd. It is also helpful for users who have difficulty with behavior and social skills.
Heat Pad Hd – Relaxing Heat Sensitive Surface
Heat Pad HD is a calming, visually pleasing and mesmerizing app that simulates a surface reacting to the heat of the touch of one’s fingertips. There are 18 surface types available, including heat, flame, sky, kids, night, and others. Each surface has a different background color that reacts with a variety of colors as it is touched with fingers or the whole hand.
Helps users meditate, relax, and breathe. Simple guided mindfulness stress reduction utilizes a variety of mindfulness meditation techniques for young adults to older adult who are looking for a way to reduce stress and anxiety in their lives.
by The One Moment Company LLC
The One-Moment Meditation app (OMM app) is brilliant in its simplicity. There is a quick tutorial that makes its mission clear: the importance of “taking a moment”. It encourages the user to take time for a moment because it takes ‘just a minute” and we all have time for just a minute.
If you are interested in searching for more apps, creating your own list of apps and sharing them, please go to BridgingApps.org. BridgingApps, a program of Easter Seals Greater Houston, is a community of parents, therapists, doctors and teachers who share information about using mobile devices with people who have special needs.
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This post originally appeared on our March/April 2019 Magazine