This week we are supporting Place 2 Be’s Children's Mental Health Week. This year’s theme behind the campaign is ‘My Voice Matters’ in hope that all children and young people will be able to say – and believe – ‘My Voice Matters’.
As parent and carers, you play a vital role in your child’s mental health, however it is not always easy to know how to reach out to your child to talk about mental health. That is why Place 2 Be visited primary and secondary schools to ask students what they feel they need from you. We picked our top five things that the children told them they need from you:
1. We do not need to have one-off conversations about our mental health – sometimes a chat on a journey or at bedtime is enough.
2. I need to know it is okay to talk to you about all of my feelings. Please hear what I have to say, without interrupting me.
3. Please listen to me carefully and acknowledge how I am feeling – it might seem silly to you but what I am going through is important to me.
4. Sometimes I do not want to talk. Please trust that I will come to you (or another grown-up or someone my own age) when I am ready. Sometimes it is easier for me to talk to someone nearer my own age – my siblings, cousins, friends, younger teachers at school - because they ‘get it’.
5. Sometimes a hug is all it takes to make me feel supported.
As parent’s ourselves, we know it is not always easy to start a conversation about children’s mental health. If you are struggling to get your child to open up, here’s a few conversation starters that you can try:
1. Tell me about your day.
2. What was the best thing about today?
3. What is the biggest stress/worry in your life right now?
4. What is your online life like?
5. Who would you talk to if you were feeling worried about your mental health?
6. What can I do to help you?
For younger children who may not yet be able to communicate clearly, it is still important to consider how we can support babies and young children with their mental health. In the same way that we can be more or less physically healthy from time to time, we can also be more or less mentally healthy too.
So how can you help your baby or toddler with their mental well-being?
It is important that your child learns to adjust and control their emotions. However, this skill needs to be developed and can be shaped by their temperament and experiences in early childhood. To develop these skills, they need responsive and sensitive care from adults around them.
How can you support babies/toddlers in heightened emotional state?
Activities such as role play and creative play – If you need ideas on creative and sensory play that is suitable with your toddler, we have lots of examples over on our blog here. Our Long Length coverall bibs will also help you keep the mess to a minimum meaning you can focus on giving your little one your undivided attention.
Suggest they come with you to wash their face – Washing tears from a child’s face with cool water will have a calming effect. This can help them regulate their emotions. Our Bamboo Wash Mitts are extremely soft and can be used from new-born so are perfect to wash babies and toddler faces.
Reassure them and help them find solutions - If you see your baby or toddler is an emotional state then you suggest a different way of looking at a worry or offer potential solutions to help. Sometimes a hug will go a long way too!
For more information on how you can support your child through a mental health issue you can visit the Place 2 Be’s website here. If you think your child might be in immediate danger, then ring 999 immediately.
Useful UK Numbers for under -18s
Text CONNECT to 85258