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One in eight children and young people experience behavioural or emotional problems growing up¹. If your child is struggling, know that they aren’t alone. Most issues will resolve themselves over time as your child grows up. Every child is different. They grow and develop at their own pace. But to help you navigate this time, we’ve put together a guide to help you to spot the signs that something may be wrong. We’ll also provide tips for supporting your child’s mental health.
Spotting the signs that something is wrong
It’s common for children to sometimes experience mood shifts, behaviour changes and periods of confusion. So it can be hard to spot the signs that something is wrong. If you’re worried that there might be a problem, here are a few signs to look out for:
This isn’t an exhaustive list. But it should help you spot the signs of a more serious issue in their lives.
Tips for supporting your child’s mental health
Children experience a whole range of emotions when growing up and experiencing things for the first time. It can be difficult to know how to navigate this time as a parent too. Here are some tips for supporting your child’s mental health:
Talk to them
It can be difficult for children to communicate how they are feeling to their parents. If they are struggling, it’s likely that they are unsure how to deal with the emotions their feeling. When talking to them, take the things they say seriously, don’t dismiss it as unimportant or trivial. Actively listen as they open up and try to ask open-ended questions to encourage them to get their issues off their chest.
Manage your own feelings
It can be tempting to want to try and solve your child’s issues immediately. Unfortunately, many emotional problems can’t be dealt with overnight. Try not to get frustrated by this, as it might make their problems worse, or cause them to hide how they feel. Stay calm when you’re listening to them and try not to let your own feelings take over.
Show your support
When someone is struggling, just letting them know that you are there, and you care, can be a big help. Ask them how their day was and how they are feeling. Showing genuine care for their emotional wellbeing can help them feel less alone with their worries. This way, they may feel more open to approach you with their concerns when they arise.
As your child grows up and starts to do more independently, it can be difficult to stay in the loop with what’s going on in their lives. It is important though, that you show interest in what’s happening. This can help you spot any problems that occur before they become a serious issue. It also helps you stay in touch with who they are as a person as they grow up into adulthood.
¹ NHS, Looking after a child or young person's mental health. NHS choices. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/supporting-others/childrens-mental-health/#signs [Accessed September 1, 2021].
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