Everyone experiences stress, fear and worry. Everyone has times when they feel good about themselves and times when they feel less good. You can help your child understand their feelings and what they can do to manage them, build strong self-esteem and positive social relationships.
How a child feels physically has a huge impact on their mental health, so encourage them to eat healthily, get enough exercise and sleep well too.
Signs that your child has a problem include: mood change – appearing bored, lonely, or withdrawn; irritability, argumentativeness, blaming, aggression; a change to their eating or sleeping pattern; loss of interest in friends or activities they previously enjoyed, or missing school.
Your child may be reluctant to talk about how they feel – this is common. But talking and listening is a key part of understanding what they might be going through. Talking to your child about how they’re feeling is not always easy – these tips may help:
Set 20 minutes aside for an activity you’ll both enjoy – this will help create a relaxed space.
Start the conversation casually – ask about their day and how they are feeling
Let them say what they want to say and make time to listen
Be there for them – the more you talk and listen, the sooner your child will know that they can talk to you when they need to. When they do open up, make sure they know you really care and are there for them.
Point them to self-help information – there is a lot of useful information online including on this website in the further information section, show it to them and encourage them to read it at their own pace, in their own time.
If you’re worried about your child and not sure you can help them, seek professional help.