Meltdowns, slammed doors, lack of motivation, loss of resilience. Does that sound familiar? If you can relate, your child may be experiencing a decline in emotional wellbeing. To be honest, in this current world climate, how can they not be! The uncertainty and fear have been immense and has had a significant impact on the mental and emotional health of millions of people worldwide, children included.
Right here in Lake Macquarie, Laura from Well Education specialises in empowering children. Laura is an accredited and highly experienced primary school teacher with focused expertise in the area of social and emotional learning. So we’ve asked Laura to expand on this subject and help us understand more about what we can do as parents.
Our emotional wellbeing is an extremely important part of life. It influences how we respond and adapt to challenges and adversity and it impacts how we see ourselves and how we function socially.
So how can you successfully manage emotional wellbeing for kids?
The first step is awareness. Being aware of the factors that impact our mental health and the signs to look out for within your family unit helps you catch any emotional declines early and put support practices into place quickly.
In my experience, factors that have a major influence on a child’s emotional health include trauma, relationships, change, and times of transition. Times of uncertainty can be particularly difficult for a child to navigate. Not knowing what the future holds and feeling helpless. These are challenging emotions for adults let alone children.
Relationships are another key factor. Negative relationships can harm a child’s self -worth and confidence and a sudden end to relationships can leave them feeling confused and unvalued. COVID-19 brought about a change in how we socialise overnight. For many children, this had serious negative impacts on their emotional wellbeing.
Our own emotional health impacts our children too. They look to us for support, for guidance, and to calm their fears, so if we are fearful, they can be too.
Signs to look out for
It’s important to note that some children can also mask their feelings quite well. Signs to look out for include separation anxiety, high levels of worry or stress, lack of resilience, a sudden change in behaviour, feelings of hopelessness, negative self-talk, lack of motivation and loss of interest.
What can you do?
If you’re concerned about your child’s emotional wellbeing be assured that there are many avenues of support. Every child, family, and situation are different so what works for one may not work for another. Also, the severity of emotional and mental health issues differs vastly.
Have an open and honest conversation with your child. Try to gently get to the root of the issue. If you are deeply concerned, seek help straight away. I believe the first step should be your family doctor, particularly if your child is familiar with your doctor and trusts them. Your doctor can refer you to a child psychologist if they deem necessary, or an occupational therapist.
Your school may be able to assist by providing access to their school counsellor or social-emotional learning programs. I would encourage a discussion with your child’s school to see what support they have available. There are also external emotional wellbeing workshops and programs Australia wide and a range of online support services including Beyond Blue, Life Line, Head Space, and Kids Helpline.
At Well Education, I support children and families through a range of workshops and programs. It’s extremely beneficial to empower children with the knowledge and skills to navigate and take control of their social and emotional wellbeing. I educate in the areas of resilience, confidence, self-worth, relationships, nutrition, and physical activity. My programs also cater to parents and carers through my Well-Families workshop, where I teach the foundations to support your family’s emotional wellbeing.
The importance of this cannot be undervalued, especially as children transition yet again to a new phase of schooling. With so much change, anxieties and stress can be high amongst our young people. As we embrace the new normal, it’s vital we make space for our children to adapt. They need us to guide them, to support them, and to love them through the uncertainty.
Secure your child’s spot
Well-Beginnings is my 5-week program that supports youths, both boys and girls, aged 8-10 years with their emotional health.
Well-I-AM is my 8-week wellbeing program written to empower young women aged 10-14 years. I plan to deliver a Well-I-AM course for young men aged 10-14 years later this year. Term 3 registrations are open now. Contact me if you would like more information.
As we navigate these interesting times please know you are not alone, and there is no shame in asking for help. Please reach out, it is not a sign of weakness or failure- quite the opposite! And remember, your own emotional wellbeing is just as important as your children’s. Take time for you too!