A young girl wrapped in a blanket and smiling
02 July 2021

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 (36%) of children in the UK aged between five and 18 years old had felt lonely since schools closed the previous month.

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

More than a year has passed, and children have been through multiple cycles of in-school and remote learning, burst bubbles and testing. Now, as the UK prepares for restrictions to end, there’s a lot to look forward to, but there may also be some anxiety. And parents may see challenging behaviours reappearing, as their children attempt to readjust again.

The good news is, parents and caregivers can help children not just survive the new changes, 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 wellbeing, and strengthen their ability to cope with life in the future.

This ‘emotional learning’ 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.

Helping children in the UK

Knowing that these activities can help children in difficult times, we know these will be useful for parents, caregivers – and anyone who looks after children – in the UK.

This free Children’s Wellbeing Guide includes tips on tackling difficult issues, alongside a journal and activities to do complete with your child.

More children's activities

Emotion wheel

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

The emotion wheel activity set includes:

  • 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.

Learn more