A guide for parents and carers
Remember, as well as ideas to support your child you should also think about how you can support yourself.
Take some time to identify things to help you feel good, happy and calm. Children often reflect the emotions and behaviour of adults around them – so if the adults around them are agitated and anxious, they are more likely to copy that. We sometimes call this ‘mirroring’ and it is a really useful thing to remember to help children stay calm themselves.
Things to help you feel calm and happy could include:
- Having someone to talk to and share your feelings with – either in person or on the phone
- Making time for yourself – pampering, watching a fave film or TV show
- Getting some fresh air – a walk, cycle or just sitting in a garden or park can help clear our heads
It’s really important to remember not to beat yourself up if you feel you get it wrong – it can feel like trial and error a lot of the time and sometimes all your strategies will go out of the window!
Support for you when things feel stuck
It is very common for parents and carers to feel ‘stuck’ in their situation, which can lead to disappointment that things might not be feeling any better. This can understandably mean you feel frustrated and miss out on recognising any positive things, however small. In this situation, it can be totally normal to feel frustrated, so again it is important not to criticise yourself or feel you are ‘getting it wrong’.
Actually, feeling stuck can also mean that things are not getting worse, and this is important. Here it is more about waiting for your child to feel able to move forward, meaning patience is a really key thing to display. It is important to reinforce positive things and experiences, in particular those things which help you as parents and carers to look after yourselves.
What can you do ‘in the moment’?
It can feel really tough to stay supportive when you or your family is ‘in the moment’. Some things which parents find useful are:
- Try to stay calm and focused on your child’s needs
- Keep your emotions in check as much as you can
- Avoid asking ‘why’? Instead look to acknowledge and validate their feelings where you can
- Let them know that what they are feeling will pass, a bit like a wave. Ask ‘what can we do to distract you?’ You can also give them choices to help them feel in control more.
Healthy coping ideas for supporting children
- Physical activity - walking outside or inside, bouncing a ball, running an errand
- Breathing exercises – finger breathing, box breathing, counting backwards
- Music - create a short playlist of songs which helps them feel good. Shortcut it to a home screen on a phone or tablet so it is easy for them to access when needed. Singing also helps to regulate breathing!
- Distraction – try to notice things around us, for example, 5 blue things, 4 red things, 3 different smells, 2 sounds
- Feel good box – make a box of physical things which reminds them of happy times and positive feelings. This could include pictures, notes, tickets to events, toys or any other small objects which have good memories attached to them
Supporting children returning to school (parents & carers)
Guidance for parents and carers on how to help your child prepare to go back to schoolView resource
Coping with self-harm resource
This guide includes information on the nature and causes of self-harm and how to support a young person for parents and carersView resource
Asking for help
Tips for young people on when it’s time to talk about their mental health, or if they want to help a friendView resource
Wellbeing Action Plan (child)
A simple, resource to help young people keep themselves well and get them through difficult timesView resource
Warning signs poster
A bold A3 poster showing the warning signs that tell you when someone may be depressed. This poster could save a life.View resource
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