Mental Health Awareness: “Why am I so different?”

Mental Health Awareness: “Why am I so different?”
15/05/2019 Anna Sjostrom Walton
Flower press with flowers that have been left to flatten and dry for two weeks. The flower press is available at chalkandmoss.com.

This is a note on the topic of kids mental health awareness, particularly timely as we’re in the middle of Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May). It’s a slight detour from my usual topic on green interiors and lifestyles. But one where I hope I highlight how important it is for our children to spend proper time in nature, away from screens.

Last night, my 10 year old daughter couldn’t sleep. At 10pm, I went in to check on her. She said “Mamma, why am I so different to others? Why can’t I fit in, and be more like them, you know, and know more about games and YouTubers?” After some pep talk I asked if she thinks some more screen time would help her join in with their games, to which she replied “no”. (She has 15 minutes screen time every two days).

She then opened up and explained that the latest game her friends are talking about and re-enacting is the horror video game Doki Doki Literacy Club. Her friends are pretending to stab themselves in the eyes. Neither of us knew the game, so we Googled it together and this is what we found out: The gamer follows the two main characters who get depressed and graphically kill themselves by stabbing. This game with adult content has no restriction or approval process. It’s available as a one click download for anyone. My daughter, upon reading this, wondered how anyone can even want to play this game, it’s not fun.

 

Let kids be kids

Now I ask you this – How does a 10 year old girl end up in a position where she feels she needs to change from offline to online to try to fit into this seemingly dangerous situation? This is the girl who who embraces every craft opportunity, who climbed Helvellyn (England’s 3rd tallest mountain), who made everyone foraged wild garlic canapés when camping, and wouldn’t give up until she’d cracked the final move on the day of her latest figure skating grading. She now questions herself, feeling like she should get more into gaming and watching YouTube to fit in.

As teenage years loom, is this her induction into the cyber world that we’ve worked so hard to protect her from? I got a lump in my throat, and wanted to whisk her away, deep into forests and mountains, where she can hang out with other nature tots. I know I can’t protect her forever, but I at least want to get her off on the right foot. Don’t we all?

 

Mental Health Awareness: Counteract digital overload

At weekends, we camp, cycle, hike, fish, forage, cook over a campfire, discover and talk. It’s who we are and it makes us feel good. Please my girl, don’t ever change who you are.

Two weeks ago she put wild flowers into this flower press from my chalkandmoss.com shop. So this afternoon we opened it together and then sat in the garden and made a felting owl. Tomorrow we’ll go and pick elderflower and make elderflower cordial. This is what childhood should be about. I’m going to close the work laptop and make time for her and her brother. Look after my number ones.

Taking the flower press apart to reveal the pressed flowers. Flower press available at chalkadmoss.com. Pressed wild flowersFelting work, making an owl with natural wool in white, grey and brown.

I set up Chalk & Moss to encourage people to connect with nature for their own wellbeing.
Discovering the outdoor world properly at 19 changed my life, and this is what I’ve wanted to gift to my kids. I’m fortunate that up until now they’ve not resented me for limiting screens and TV to next to nothing. And it’s paid off.

As it happens, this week Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May). Go figure.

Do you have similar experiences or concerns? I’d love to hear from you.

If this post speaks to you or means something, please consider sharing to spread the message.

PS. if you have a child who has insomnia or struggles to sleep, you might want to try this sleep smoothie recipe.

Comments (2)

  1. Gaby 2 months ago

    Very interesting and Sad as to what the cyber world has become- can I ask what you limit the 15 minutes of screen time to? Is it spent on whatever she wants or censored?

    • Author

      We have a restriction on our home Wifi. We’ve been meaning to set up a restriction on her phone too, but as it’s a really old iPhone many such apps need newer devices (ones where I can control things from my phone too). So theoretically, she would watch anything that’s allowed on the Wifi. She’s not a gamer, but enjoys crafty and fun games, so she’s got 3 of those on her phone. If she wants to download anything, she asks me first and her phone automatically sends an approval request to my phone, and I have to enter a password. She’s not got YouTube on her phone, but does watch it through the phone browser. So far, she’s mostly watching e.g. Sis vs Bro (they give each other dares) and home life hack things. But I know that’s a thin line, and could easily start watching other things or accidentally see something in an innocent search. We just try to do our best, keeping conversations open. We decided to give her a phone when she turned 10 so she started using it when we still have involvement in her life 🙂

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