Supporting Children's Emotional Health & Wellbeing - Tommies Childcare

Supporting Children’s Emotional Health & Wellbeing

Supporting Children’s Emotional Health & Wellbeing

The subject of children’s emotional and mental health and well-being has been highlighted as a long-term concern due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, while lockdowns have spotlighted children’s mental health, this has been a hot topic of discussion amongst the early years’ sector for some time now.

The foundations for children’s emotional development are laid in the early years. Evidence shows that positive early experiences are vitally important for young children. A strong sense of attachment, emotional stability and security are crucial for children to grow into healthy adults. 

As parents, and those who work closely with young children, it is our responsibility to support and nurture our children’s emotional development. We must highlight any potential concerns as early as possible to ensure that the correct support is implemented.

“Positive mental health enables children to develop their resilience and grow into well-rounded adults. Recent research suggests that children are more likely to suffer from mental health issues than 30 years ago.” (Mind, 2015)

Routine & Consistency

Children, especially those under 5, thrive on routine and consistency. There are many areas of children’s emotional development that are supported by a strong sense of routine. 

Young children feel reassured by knowing what comes next, i.e. lunchtime, naptime, dinner time, bathtime and bedtime. However, for children to adapt to a routine, these things need to happen consistently each day.

As adults, we require a certain level of sleep to function well, even more so for young children who are going through significant physical growth changes at the same time. 

Resilience

An essential aspect of early child development is supporting children’s ongoing resilience. This means ensuring that children develop the skills and mental strength to pick themselves up and try again when things don’t go as planned. 

Life throws all sorts of challenges at us, so resilience is crucial to deal with any obstacles or hardships we may face.

Sometimes, our instincts cause us to prevent children from taking risks. It can be unbearable to see our children upset or hurt. But by preventing children from taking risks, we are preventing them from developing resilience. 

(For help and ideas regarding Risk Play and its benefits, visit our other blog: The Benefits of Risk Play in the Early Years)

Self-Regulation

As parents, we have an essential responsibility in supporting our children to regulate their thoughts, emotions and behaviour. 

“Self-regulation in its simplest form refers to the ability to control our impulses. When we self-regulate, we can stop doing something even if we don’t want to, and we can start to do something that is required of us even if we’d rather not.”

Self-regulation is all about resisting the urge to indulge in our impulses because you can think ahead and consider the consequences of your actions. It can range from stopping yourself from buying something expensive that will leave you short of money or waiting your turn in a queue.

“Children who reach adolescence without developing this ability are more likely to do badly in school, demonstrate aggressive behaviour, abuse substances, engage in high-risk sexual behaviour and as a result of any or all of these generally experience negative life events” (Houghton et al., 201, Canada Education, 2015). 

Parents who struggle with their own mental health will likely find it difficult to support the development of these skills in their children. This is why we all must take the time to support our mental health and well-being. 

The Impact of Covid-19 on Children’s Mental Well-being

Many children have had to endure the consequences of Covid-19, mainly due to lockdowns and being unable to attend nursery or school.

There have been various reports about the pandemic’s impact on children’s emotional development and their educational development, with many children now falling behind their developmental milestones.

Extensive research suggests that early years provision has a crucial impact on children’s early development. This is why it’s a concern that so many children have spent so much of their early life at home with only their primary carers, isolated from other significant family members and other children.

Additionally, many children’s health screenings and appointments with Health Visitors are still being held virtually. This has meant that some developmental delays have not been spotted. 

Future Outcomes

According to the Mental Health Foundation (2015) “children who suffer from health

problems associated with poor behaviour and low achievement at school are those who

have poorer outcomes in later life”.

This is an area that we need to take note of and support in our children’s earliest years to

prevent the onset of mental health concerns from taking hold in our children’s later life.

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