The week of 7 – 13 February is Children’s Mental Health Week. The week is organised by the charity Place2Be, and focuses on the importance of promoting good mental health and wellbeing for children and young people.
The theme of this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is Growing Together.
Growing Together is about growing emotionally and finding ways to help each other grow. Challenges and setbacks can help us to grow and adapt and trying new things can help us to move beyond our comfort zone into a new realm of possibility and potential. However, emotional growth is often a gradual process that happens over time, and sometimes we might feel a bit ‘stuck’.
As parents and carers, you play an important role in your child’s mental health.
Here are a few simple ways you can support your child’s emotional growth.
- Talk about when your child was younger
Most children enjoy hearing their parents tell stories about when they were younger. Recall stories that highlight how your child has developed and changed over the years. For example, how you enjoyed teaching them to learn to ride a bike, or swim. Or how proud you were when they took part in a school assembly – even though they were nervous. If you are an adoptive parent, foster or kinship carer, you will still have lots of memories to share from when you first came together as a family.
- Notice when your child has developed and grown
You may have made marks on the walls to recognise how tall your child has grown over the years, or looked at old photos together. It is important to also recognise and praise emotional growth. This could be letting them know how proud you are when they have learnt to walk away rather than fight with a sibling, or how they have learnt to ask others to play when they used to be too shy to do so.
- Encourage your child to try new things
This could be new foods, a new activity or a new experience. Praise their willingness to ‘give things a go’ rather than whether they were ‘good’ at it. This will give them confidence to continue to develop and grow.
- Listen to your child’s hopes and dreams for the future
Encourage your child to see that everything they are doing right now is a tiny step towards who they might want to become in the future. For example, your child staying away from home for a night is a step towards them being able to leave home for study or work in the future. Your child helping another child is an important step towards them becoming a counsellor, a doctor, a nurse or a teacher etc.
- Support your child to learn from tough situations
It can be really hard when your child is not getting on with friends or is disappointed with how something has worked out. Acknowledge the difficult feelings, but help your child to see that these situations help us to grow and develop so that we are better able to cope with life’s ups and downs.
Let your child know that if they are worried about something, they should always talk to an adult they trust. It could be you, someone in your family, a teacher or someone else in their school.
If you’re worried about your child’s mental health you can talk to your GP or someone at school.
You can also find a list of organisations that provide support and advice on the Place2Be website:
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