You are amazing! You are so special there is no one like you on the whole planet, there has never been and there will never be another one of you. You are one in 7 billion and at Changing Lives we want to keep you that way!
Children depend on those who look after them to create a safe and loving home environment to help them grow physically, socially and emotionally. The home environment gives the child a taste of how to successfully form and keep relationships, learn at school, play with their mates, have healthy body and mind where possible. Home is not the house or flat the child lives in, it is the quality of loving and supportive relationships that the members of the family experience and the positive memories they build with every interaction.
Children need to have homes that support their emotional well-being which is just as important as their physical health. This allows children to develop the strength to cope with the various challenges they face and grow into well-balanced, healthy young people and adults. Children need a loving, open relationship with their parents, where they can ask questions, share their fears and concerns without being ridiculed or threatened. Parents are the primary educators of their children and it is very important that they listen to their children if they were to help them and take their feelings seriously. From a simple hug to practical help parents are the bedrock of support for the healthy and balanced development of their children.
What helps to develop emotional wellbeing?
- having a sense of safety and belonging at home
- family relations where there is trust and members get along with each other
- good physical health including a balanced diet
- having the time and freedom to play and physically exercise indoors and outdoors
- attending school and enjoying learning
- taking part in local activities with other children and families
However there are individual differences and some children are more vulnerable than others in maintaining good emotional wellbeing at different stages of life. Children respond to change in various ways: for some it is exciting and an adventure for others it triggers anxiety and withdrawal. For example, starting school could be an exciting adventure of learning new things and making new friend for some while it can make them frightened and anxious. Moving to a new home or city, the birth of a sister or brother, the death of a family member or a pet can result in difficult emotional experience (trauma) for some children. With the support of parents and other supporting adults like relations, neighbours, teachers most children will be able to recover. A few might need professional support.
There are certain risk factors that affect the emotional wellbeing of children:
- having a long-term physical illness or health condition
- having serious learning/ educational difficulties or special needs
- having been severely bullied or physically or sexually abused
- living in poverty or being homeless
- experiencing discrimination because of skin colour, ethnicity, sexuality or religion
- taking on caring responsibilities as if the child were an adult
- experiencing domestic abuse, parents separation or divorce
- having a parent with serious and long term mental health problems
- having parents with alcohol or drug dependence
- parents criminal behaviour and trouble with the law
- experiencing the death of someone close and important
On becoming teenagers, children often experience emotional turmoil because of the hormonal changes as their bodies develop. This is also an important time of development to work out and accept who you as a person, how to be a young woman or man, and sexual attraction. This also a time where young people are expected to make life defining choices like what subjects to study and career choice to follow which creates a lot of pressure. In addition, young people also need to have a sense of belonging to their peer group just as children need to belong to their family. Making all these changes within a limited period of time can affect the emotional wellbeing of young people and exposure to too much stress, experimenting with alcohol, drugs or other substances to fit in with peer group can affect mental health.