When it comes to our mental health, everyone needs a bit of extra help. This is true for adults, it’s true for teens and it’s true for even our little ones — who are new to being a person and all the Great Big Emotions that come with it. For grown-ups we have a lot more tools — particularly mental health apps — at our disposal designed to help our fully-developed adult minds develop coping strategies, cultivate mindfulness and check-in with ourselves, but what about apps designed for little brains?
Turns out there’s plenty of options for them too! Whether it’s knowing and naming your feelings, coping with fear, anxiety or anger or finding ways to learn kid-friendly beginner’s mindfulness tricks, kids and parents can actually find a whole lot of extra support and some great advice during screen time. Plus, you can begin some of those all-too-important mental health dialogues that will only help you and your child develop strong mental health communication skills as you grow together.
Read on for a few of our favorite kid’s mental health apps:
Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame
A really basic introduction to mindfulness and meditation, this app is great for helping kids learn how to take a good solid breath, to think and then act as they solve problems, resolve conflicts and make sense of emotional challenges. With both English and Spanish options available, it’s a super accessible option (particularly if you’ve got a little one who already loves their Sesame Street monsters).
Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings
Coming from the work of Fred Rogers, Daniel Tiger brings that same spirit of understanding that feelings are “manageable and mentionable” with fun games and activities for your child to learn about their feelings with familiar characters they already love.
Three Good Things: A Happiness Journal
An appropriate option for older kids (7+), this app lets your child practice gratitude and record three happy moments each day. This can be a great thing to review around the dinner table as a family to take turns practicing gratitude together and will be a special way for them to look back on some happy moments when they need it most.
From psychologists and child education experts, Smiling Mind gives kids and adults a whole host of activities, programs and meditation sessions to learn about mindfulness, de-stress, promote healthy sleep patterns and navigate school challenges.
Headspace for Kids
Grown-ups all over love Headspace as a go-to app for a bit of meditation and checking in with themselves, but they also have a wealth of kid’s content that takes similar themes but making them fun and kid-friendly. With options for different age groups and different targeted themes (from calm to focus to kindness to sleep and wake up sessions), there’s material to help your child through all sorts of the emotional ups and downs they may be going through.
More suited toward teens, Sanvello is a really cool and involved app for helping cope with anxiety and depression. With tools and contacts including therapy, coaching, coping techniques, meditations, and goal and mood tracking, the app has a lot of features to consider — but, if you’re using it for your teen you’ll want to make sure you’re mindful of the access to strangers (due to the community support/contact features) and extra communicative about their comfort levels. The app is free but there are in-app purchases available and premium content available that may be covered by your health plan.
Remember that mental healthcare is a great behavior you can model for your kids and apps can be great tools to get the conversation started and supplement professional care — but these cool tech tools are just that, supplements, and not replacements for the real care a person (even a very small one) needs from time-to-time.
Everyone could use a little brain help. Check out our favorite (grown-up) mental health apps too!