Being a parent is one of the most rewarding roles in the world. But it is also the hardest one. We watch them grow, we celebrate their achievements no matter how small or big they are, we teach them basics to make sure they can become independent. But one day we look at them and realise that something is not right. They are not their usual active self. Or they speak back. Or they don’t speak at all. We start to consider every possible reason for this change of behaviour, from physical to emotional. Are they coming down with the cold? Have they had a fight at school? Did they fall out with a friend? Are they still adapting to the new school/class/teacher? Is there something more serious? My clients often say that, when children are going through tough times, they often blame themselves, feel helpless and out of control, isolated. This often affects their mental health.

So how do we deal with these situations? What can we do to improve our children’s mental health? What can we do to support our own mental health?

It is important to be honest and open. Share with them about how you feel. This is a good way of teaching children how to talk about emotions which can encourage them to examine their own feelings and open up to you.

Ask them what can help. Kids are smart. They know the problem, they’ll know the solution. If not, talk, play, share your thoughts. They need all the support they can have.

Tell them again and again how much you love them. They will know that, even if things are not good with friends, teachers, neighbours, football coaches etc, you always love them and you are proud of them no matter what.

Remember to take care of yourself. Do not blame yourself: You are not a bad parent, it’s just a difficult time for your child and added stress makes it harder to cope for everyone.

Talk to people around you (other parents, friends, school teachers). They may share something you don’t know about.

Make sure you do not neglect yourself. Take time off, watch your favourite film, take a bath, have your favourite cake. Do things you enjoy to help you to unwind.

Recognise it if things get worse. You are not a super human, you can’t cope with everything alone. If things get overwhelming get in touch. Let me support you so that you can support your child.
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