• what are feelings?
  • it helps to talk
  • it's ok to have feelings
  • got questions?
  • what's on?

what can i do?

It can be really confusing and stressful when your child isn't well. When your child hurts themselves, breaks a bone or gets sick you take them to the Doctor - simple.

But what about when your child isn't enjoying school, is acting out, is much quieter than usual or doesn't seem to be happy anymore?

As parents, caregivers, teachers and family you will be aware of a child's personality - and really aware when something changes. But, you might not know what to do to help the child. It might feel like there aren't experts available to fix things.

Tips & suggestions

Here are some tips and suggestions on what to do when your child isn't doing so well, or when you have concerns about their behaivour. Keep in mind that these are general ideas and might not be right for your situation. This is, however, a great starting point.

Friends, family members and other adults can also be really useful to ask for advice or support, as can your Doctor, school, or Lifeline - a telephone counselling service for adults. You can reach Lifeline on 0800 543 354. You can call Healthline for medical information and support on 0800 611 116.

Children are people too. Their fears and worries may seem silly or small to you, but they are very real to the child experiencing them. Accepting children's feelings as real is  important, no matter what the issue.

Listen to what the child is saying. Let them talk about the situation and what they feel, and listen carefully.

Help the child think of options. That doesn't mean telling them what to do, but rather asking, "have you felt this way before?", or "what do you need?"

Be patient. It's not your job to fix every problem. We want children to grow up to be resilient and capable of thinking of their own solutions. Support the child, but don't  solve things for them.

Spend time with them. Being around and available, at play, bedtime, at home - not necessarily talking about issues - can help the child feel supported and safe, which is really important.

In general, being available, supportive, and trusting of the child who is struggling is crucial. If you need more support or have any questions, you can call Lifeline for telephone counselling for adults on 0800 543 354.
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