All children get upset sometimes and most teenagers suffer mood swings – these emotions are all part of growing up. But as a parent or carer you don’t always know if what your child is going through is normal or actually something to worry about.
Research shows that more children and teenagers have problems with their emotional health today than 30 years ago because of changes to the way we live. A poor diet, lack of exercise, family breakdowns and pressure to do well at school are just some of the things that can contribute to youngsters feeling down, worried or angry.
The Mental Health Foundation has published ‘Whatever life brings’, a new practical guide for parents and carers, telling you what everyone needs to know about children and young people’s mental health. It suggests how to support children to keep them mentally well, and gives advice on when to seek outside help and describes the different types of professional support available.
Dr Andrew McCulloch, the charity’s Chief Executive, said:
“There are lots of things that parents and carers can do to protect their children’s mental wellbeing but some things are out of their control – in those instances they need to know what to look out for and what to do if they think their child needs more than they can offer.”
According to the Mental Health Foundation, the following things can help keep children mentally well:
- Receiving affection, praise and support
- Being part of a family that gets along well most of the time
- Accepting who they are and recognising what they’re good at
- Eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise
- Having time and the freedom to play, indoors and outdoors
The charity says that when upset or angry, troubled children and teenagers may:
- Throw temper tantrums
- Cling to you, not wanting to leave your side
- Behave badly, aggressively or be rude
- Withdraw from family life or from other children
- Be unable to settle to an activity or to sleep
- Have bad dreams
- Experience aches and pains
- Cry a lot
- Refuse food
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