A young girl wrapped in a blanket and smiling
09 April 2020

Child emotional wellbeing

Supporting your child’s emotional wellbeing in tough times

Help your child cope with change and anxiety

In April 2020, a World Vision survey of parents in the UK revealed that more than one in three UK children aged between five and 18 years old (36%) had felt lonely since schools closed.  

The survey also showed that almost a third of parents noticed negative changes in their children’s behaviour since the first lockdown started, including tantrums, nightmares, fighting and crying, as well as physical symptoms such as stomach aches.

Almost a year on, children have experienced the cycle of 'back to school', followed by the upheaval of home-learning again, many times over. As the UK gets ready for the first step on the 'roadmap' back to a normal routine, our children are the pioneers. 

While some pupils may have packed their bags and shined their shoes as soon as the announcement was made, many other children will be anxious. And parents may be seeing the same behaviours reappearing, as their children attempt to readjust again.

The good news is, there are many things which parents and caregivers can do to help children not just survive the return to school, but thrive. 

Child-friendly help

At World Vision, we have decades of expertise helping children deal with the many challenging experiences, trauma and changes to their circumstances that some of the most vulnerable children have gone through.

Events such as natural disasters, the loss of parents, or being forced to leave everything behind because of war in your homeland, can cause immense stress on a child’s mental well-being.

In such circumstances, it’s important to help children connect with their emotions and understand how they feel at different times. And it’s vital they can express these feelings to help the adults around them support them.

World Vision’s Child-Friendly Spaces become a haven for children, giving them opportunities to leave their worries behind and become children again, to play, draw and create.

They are also given ways to explore their feelings through games and exercises which will help their mental well-being, and strengthen their ability to cope with life in the future.

"At the centre, I felt relaxed. The most beautiful activity was the ‘wheel of emotions'. I learned how to be happy through making new friends or to express my sadness [with pictures]." - Raaja, 13, used the Emotion Wheel at a centre for child refugees in Lebanon.

Young girl and one of World Vision's emotion wheels

Helping children in the UK

We thought that families in the UK might find these activities useful too at this challenging time. We hope that they are helpful and would love to hear your feedback on our Facebook page.

Emotion wheel activities

This sequence of activities uses an emotion wheel to help children name their feelings and discover healthy ways to respond to them.

Emotion wheel activity set including:

  • Building the emotion wheel: This creative idea helps children own and name their emotions.
  • Emotions and behaviours: Help children become familiar with different kinds of emotions and how they can come out in actions.
  • Things to do when big feelings are in your heart: Learn helpful ways of responding to difficult emotions.
  • Managing my emotions: These calming activities, helping children to be aware of their feelings and to control their physical response.

Use these activities as often as your children need them.

And please feel free to share them with other families who might find them helpful.

How they help

In our Child-Friendly Spaces, we call this ’emotional learning’. It helps children in these ways:

  • Enable children to acknowledge and name their feelings.
  • Help children to understand that everyone has different kinds of feelings, and that emotions are neither good or bad.
  • Recognise other people’s emotions.
  • Strengthen children’s ability to help themselves to feel better when they are upset, sad or angry.
  • To realise that everyone can choose to respond in healthy and respectful ways to their feelings.