When creating an app aimed at enhancing children’s mental health, it’s critical to explore the most effective ways to do so that both children and parents find the app valuable in maintaining good mental health. Christine Taylor, a licenced clinical professional counsellor who works with children and their families, wrote an excellent article titled “Mood Tracking with Children and Adolescents”, in which she discusses the importance of mood-tracking in children and how this technique can be beneficial to their overall mental health.
Taylor illustrates that one of the main issues that arises on the topic of improving a child’s mental health is that parents often feel in the dark about their child’s feelings. In particular, young children do not have the capacity to explain such complex feelings, and so may struggle to explain how they feel, and they may also not feel confident enough to fully open up to their parents or a professional.
To combat this problem, Taylor highlights that a great tool to use is mood-tracking. This can be implemented through word form, a journal entry, or even a scale of 1-10 to help children recognise and process their emotions. Not only is this beneficial for the child, but it also helps parents to notice patterns in their child’s mood in the hopes of helping to identify trigger points.
Through her own work with children, Taylor points out that although every child is different, certain aspects of a mood-tracker prove to be most effective. For instance, many kids today enjoy trackers the most on their phones or tablets, and also enjoy fun and colourful elements that help them express their artistic expression. It is also key that any mood tracker allows a check-in at least once a day, as this allows a weekly review, and really helps children on processing their emotions and communicating with their parents. Some children may also require a check-in multiple times a day, for example, morning, afternoon, and night-time, and this can be especially good for highlighting exactly when children are struggling.
Finally, Christine Taylor mentions how the best mood-trackers also involve the parents. Showing interest and empathy in the child’s emotions and helping them come to solutions makes the child feel more understood and less alone and could ultimately lead to a positive change.
This article is extremely relevant and important for me when developing my app as one of the main areas is tracking a kid’s mood and mutual communication between parent and child. It has now sparked new and detailed approaches that I can take my tracker such as adding optional journal entries or being able to check in more than once a day.