Looking After our Children’s Mental Health

The New Term
 

This year has been a challenging one for all of us. We’ve all needed resilience in order to cope with the unprecedented changes that have been imposed on us.

For our children and young people especially, new aspects of life such as lockdowns, social distancing, the closure of schools and colleges have left many feeling uncertain and worried about their futures.

Helping our children to manage these feelings of concern and uncertainty is important for their mental well being. As parents and carers, no one is better qualified to do just that and we can do so in a number of ways.

 
The simple act of listening
 

Many children saw the period of school and college closures as enjoyable. However some didn’t and struggled being away from friends and the normality of school life. Others may have been affected by changes to their home life, family issues and bereavement.

Making a habit of asking our children how they are doing helps them to grow accustomed to talking openly about worries and concerns. It offers them reassurance that someone is there, to listen if they ever need it.

 
Working together
 

As local lockdowns and lifting of restrictions become a part of life, many children and young people might feel overwhelmed by the prospect of going back to something resembling normal life.

They may worry about catching the virus or passing it on. Feelings like these generally pass as we adjust to a new normality and build more confidence. Paying close attention to our children’s behaviours and emotions can help.

 
Staying involved & taking things seriously
 

Giving value to who they are and what they think and feel is important to build resilience in our children. Showing real interest in their lives and the things that matter to them makes supporting them and identifying potential problems a lot easier.

Listening to what our children say without judgement makes them feel valued. We all have a lot to process these days which might be far more challenging for a young person or child with less life experience to draw upon. Consider constructive ways to help them work through their emotions.

 
Encourage interests & positive routines
 

Interests can give our minds something good to focus on. They might involve physical activity, creativity or learning things and developing interests and passions. Taking an interest and encouraging exploration is a good way to reconnect with your child and forge closer bonds.

Interests can form an important part of a positive routine that fits around school or college. They can also provide a useful gateway towards the introduction of other positive structures in their lives, such as healthy eating, regular exercise, and a good night’s sleep.

If you are concerned about yourself or a child or young person you take care of, you can get support and free confidential advice. Young Minds’ parent’s helpline and the online community Kooth which has free, confidential counselling. You can also get in touch with your GP for help and advice.