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How can I help my child to stay mentally well?

Look after yourself 

Whilst you may be worried about your child’s mental wellbeing remember it is not your fault.  It is important that you take time to develop and maintain your own mental wellbeing. Good mental wellbeing will influence how you cope with life’s ups and downs and ultimately your ability to respond to your child’s emotional and mental wellbeing needs.   Routinely making time to do the things that matter to you is central to promoting and maintaining your mental wellbeing.  This will be different things for different people and could be something as simple as undertaking activities like reading, walking, connecting with others, or cooking for the family.  Whatever it is you enjoy doing try to make time to do it!

However, some of you may be feeling more distressed than usual and there are a number of reasons why this might be so.  If this is the case you may find it helpful to talk to someone.  You can access information about a number of organisations through the following links.

Listen, respond and reassure your child 

Frequently ask your child/children, whatever their age, how they're doing? This will help them get used to talking about their feelings and know that there's always someone to listen. It’s important that they know that it’s ok not to feel good all of the time.  You may find it a bit easier to start a conversation about ‘feelings ’when you are both relaxed and doing an activity that you both enjoy.  

If your child doesn’t want to talk, perhaps you could use a play activity such as role play with toys/dolls, drawing or ‘playdoh’ to help your child convey their feelings.  If your child is older you may want to try activities that they enjoy to engage them in conversation e.g. baking a cake, kicking a ball, going for a walk.    

If they have questions, listen to them and answer honestly whilst providing reassurance and comfort to your child. 

Show interest in your child’s life valuing what they say without judgement.   Work through their emotions together by acknowledging them and affirming that emotions are a normal part of living.  If you feel able to help them to recognise how they respond to their emotions you may be able to get them to think about why they respond in that way.  In doing so, you may be able to help them think about a different response which may help them to feel in control.   

Regardless of the approach you choose to try to help your child or young person to open up about their feelings, the links below provide suggestions about how to start conversations as well as a number of questions you might want to consider asking your child.

Encourage them to try new things and develop interests 

It is important that children and young people find things to do that make them feel good.  They are all different and no one size fits all. Some children will enjoy sports, others will enjoy art or reading.  Children and young people may need some encouragement to participate but remember it isn’t important what the activity they take part in is as long as it is safe and they enjoy it. 

Having routine in daily life is beneficial to your child’s mental wellbeing  

Daily routine help us to feel well, safe and secure.   It may not be easy because life is still not back to the ‘old normal’, but simple routines around meal times, bed times and regular exercise including play could be beneficial to your child’s mental wellbeing. 

Parenting is both a rewarding but tough job.  Further help is available free of charge for parents of children of all ages through the following links.

  • Access codes:  
    1. South Wales: SWSOL 
    2. North Wales: NWSOL 
    • 'Understanding your child’ 0-19 years (main course) and/or  
    • 'Understanding your teenager's brain' (short course)