We are in the midst of a mental health crisis in the United States and for good reason. Losses and fears from the COVID – 19 pandemic have challenged us, and there are growing economic concerns for many Americans.   The good news is that you and your family do have some choices.  This doesn’t mean rainbows and unicorns, but sometimes making an improvement in one’s mood can make a difference.


 Here are 3 ways to help boost you and your child’s mood:

  • Express gratitude and show Appreciation
      • Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness. It is when you miss stepping in a puddle, and think, “Thank Goodness.” To practice gratitude, you and your children can name three good things from the day each night. You might want to keep those nightly named things in a gratitude journal.  And, you and your child can create a journal separately or together.  Have fun with it whatever you do!  Pictures of family, friends and drawings of gratitude only add to the experience.  Of course, some days are easier than others, but we all benefit from practicing the ‘attitude of gratitude’. It only follows to show  gratitude by putting it  into action.  Tell a waiter how nice they look that day, or let a friend know how much they mean to you.  Then through appreciation, gratitude  spreads to others!
  • Help Others
      • Shifting our focus from ourselves to others can sometimes help us and our children become happier. Coming up with something creative your son or daughter wants to do to help someone is good practice to boost that  feel-good feeling. It might be that  visiting with a neighbor to find out how they are is a simple way to help others.  Or taking that special furry friend for a long walk and paying attention to their explorations is a fun way to help.  Research shows that helping others significantly boosts mood.  Try it out and see what you think!
  • Reframe Challenges
      • We all have challenging days—there are no two ways around it. But oftentimes we can make our days better by learning something new, working to develop an inner quality (grit, patience, forgiveness, perseverance), or learning how we can utilize a challenge as a stepping-stone to something better (thus feeling more hopeful, and a wee bit happier). Children, like adults, often feel stuck in situations, but helping them get unstuck in their thinking and actions is essential. First, acknowledge the challenge, empathize with it, and then help them see it as something they can work through!  Just reminding ourselves and our children that ‘this too shall pass’ is encouragement to reframe our challenges.

Choosing happier thoughts requires an inner strength.  Our minds tend to go toward the negative and focus on that.   It takes courage and discipline to look for the good when life (and this world) feels like it’s falling apart. But with practice and effort, you and your children can form habits in thoughts and actions that move you both toward feeling better simply because you are grateful and show that gratitude by expressing appreciation, helping others and simply reframing our challenges as opportunities too.