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Mental Health Matters: May 12

Hello Ellis Families,

I hope you are well. Mental Health Awareness Month continued with Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day on May 7th. There’s been a recent shift in how we talk about children’s mental health, especially in the language we use in discussing their behaviors. For example, rather than saying a child is ‘attention seeking’, it is instead encouraged to say that a child is ‘connection seeking’.

Reframing our language can significantly change how we see a child’s behavior. Often when our children demonstrate their most frustrating behaviors, they are looking for connection and validation. Seeing it from this perspective can help adults be more empathetic towards children’s experiences and help us meet their needs more effectively.

Reframing is a great tool not only for thinking about a child’s behavior, but also for looking at our own experiences. How can we reframe something in our own life to see our successes rather than failures? Can we reframe to see where our learning experiences are? How we be more empathetic towards ourselves and also ensure our own needs are met?

I welcome you to join our evening Caregiver Zoom Chat scheduled for Thursday, May 14th from 8:15-9:00pm. Margaret Olem of the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) will join us and review materials you can use to build your children’s social emotional literacy at home and support them in developing both coping and communication skills.

Thank you and be well,



Kindness During the Time of COVID

Studies show extending kindness can help improve our own positive mental health, helping us remember we are connected to one another. But how can we do this when connecting with others in person isn’t safe? Below are ideas your family can do from home:

Peaceful Pen Pals- I received a letter myself from a new pen pal and it brightened my whole day! Peaceful Pen Pals can connect children as young as two to another child, providing an opportunity to learn about others and giving others space to express themselves.

Boston Cares has ideas for volunteering at home, including making masks, making cards for those in need or making uplifting videos for some of their partner agencies. Boston Cares also offers great in person volunteer opportunities for families (once it is safe, of course).

The Confetti Foundation gives you the opportunity to make a birthday card or banner for a child who is currently hospitalized to help create a birthday experience and a few moments of respite while in the hospital.

Breathing Techniques

Elephant Breathing

• Have your child stand with their feet wide apart and their arms dangling in front of their body like an elephant’s trunk.

• As they breathe in deeply through their nose, have them raise their arms up high above their head.

• Have them slowly swing their arms down again as they breathe out through their mouth.

Elephant breathing is another great breathing technique for building the breath-body connection and is also playful and fun for your child (and yourself) to do.

Hot Tip

Roll a Monster is a fun game you can play with your child at home and requires limited supplies. Whatever materials you use, it’s most important to share time with your child- and of course to have fun! What will your monster look like? What will theirs look like? Can you add a therapeutic twist by thinking about the personality of your monster? What are they afraid of? Or do they make others scared?

Don’t feel you have to stick to the list in the picture. Are there other body parts or accessories you think would be fun to add?

A Moment of Zen

Simply a video of a bear playing in the bath. Nothing more, nothing less- your moment of Zen.

Mental Health and Parent Support

  • Breastfeeding Warmline: Early post-partum? Breastfeeding? Pregnant? The Breastfeeding Warmline is live and our Breastfeeding Counselors are available every day to help. Talk to one of our trained and experienced peer counselors today. Call 857-301-8259 or Email.

  • Project Bread: Managing mental health is that much harder when you are unable to meet your basic needs. If you are experiencing food insecurity please contact Project Bread for assistance.

  • FoodSource Hotline counselors refer callers to food resources in their community as well as provides information about school meals, summer meal sites for kids, elder meals programs, and SNAP. Call: 1-800-645-8333 or TTY 1-800-377-1292, Open Mon-Fri 8am-7pm, Saturday 10am-2pm.

  • Parental Stress Line: 800-632-8188. Counselors are there to listen to your concerns and problem-solve with you. 24/7, free and confidential.

  • Boston Emergency Services Team (BEST Team): 800-981-4357. A mental health emergency hotline for crisis evaluation and treatment if your child has become a danger to themselves or others in the home.

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