Difficult behaviours in children and young people can mean there is a problem like bullying, depression, drug use or something much simpler. Behaviour is complicated and there are many explanations – simply being a teenager can mean a change in behaviour.
Here are our top tips:
- Children and young people need consistent parenting, if you say no you need to mean it, with both parents agreeing.
- Boundaries and rules are important.
- Family meal times are good times to talk and can be a great time to share problems.
Your local hub can offer support and advice if you're struggling to manage your child's behaviour. There are also a number of services that offer support and information. Why not take a look at the links below:
Family Lives - Teenage Behaviour is a charity with over three decades of experience helping parents to deal with the changes that are a constant part of family life.
Young Minds - Dealing With Difficult Teen and Young Adult Behaviour, aims to make sure all young people get the best possible mental health support and have the resilience to overcome life's challenges.
The NSPCC - Positive Parenting (pdf) have put together a guide to offer tips to help you balance the demands of parenting.
Parent Talk down to earth parenting advice that you can trust.
There are many children and young people who suffer from issues around going to the toilet. Their habits are not what we think of as “normal”. Sometimes, as parents, we need to go to see a health professional (a doctor or a nurse) for an assessment for our children to find out if there is a problem. This can sometimes mean tests or going to a clinic. You can contact one of our team on the Hub numbers below to talk about the problem.
There is lots of basic advice for children about soiling:
- Go to the doctor, it could be constipation.
- Encourage them to go to the toilet regularly, after a meal is good.
- Make sure they take any medicine that the doctor might have prescribed.
- Go to any appointments that might be arranged.
- Follow the advice around food and drink.
There is also advice for night time wetting:
- Go to the doctor, it could be an infection.
- Last drink is an hour before bed time.
- Encourage your child to go to the toilet for a wee just before going to sleep.
- Ensure they drink enough of the right drinks, water is best (NOT cola, squash, tea, coffee, Dr Pepper, etc.)
- Don’t get angry with them.
- Go to any appointments and follow the advice.
Day time wetting:
- Go to the doctor to see if there is an infection.
- Follow the advice and go to any appointments.
Does your child experience difficulties with everyday activities such as dressing, toileting, writing and general movement difficulties?
Movement Wise is an online workshop developed by our Children’s Occupational Therapy team, aimed at parents and carers of school aged children. The video aims to help you understand your child’s movement difficulties, exploring how this may impact on their everyday life and activities. It will provide you with practical ideas to help your child manage these at home and school.
Sometimes our young people feel like they don't have any control over what they think or how they feel. By making simple changes, you can make a real difference to their emotional and mental health and wellbeing.
Asking for help
As parents, we all need a bit of help sometimes. But it can be difficult to know how, or who, to ask. Please know that you’re not alone in this and people around you want to help you.
You just have to ask.
Who can your young person get support from?
- your family – parents or carers, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins
- trusted friends – their own friends, or friends of the family, neighbours
- people they go to school or college with
- professionals – a teacher, your School Nurse, practice nurse, social worker or your Doctor
- a community support group.
"Opening up for the first time is the hardest part - it becomes easier after that".
How to ask for help?
Decide who the best person to talk to is. Who would they feel most comfortable talking to? Many of us prefer talking to family or friends, but they may prefer to talk to professionals, support groups, helplines or online discussion forums.
Pick your time and place. Choose a good time and somewhere you both feel comfortable, so you can talk uninterrupted in a relaxed environment.
What outcome do they want? Do they simply want to be listened to? Would they like more practical or emotional support? It’s okay if you don't know, but it can help to think about what you both would like to achieve.
Ask them to make notes. Write down the things they want to say so you remember to include them in your conversation.
Encourage them to explain how they feel and what support they would like. The other person will then know how to help you.
It may be difficult for them to talk about their feelings. But “a problem shared is a problem halved” and they’ll probably feel better simply talking to someone. When they’re feeling down, it’s important that they know that they are not struggling on their own. Just ask for some help.
You can contact your School Nurse by telephoning your local Hub, you will always be supported by one of our professional team who will listen to you and support you.
Your young person (if they are aged 11-19 years) may prefer to send us a text through our chat health service (see below for contact details).
ChatHealth is a text message service for young people to ask for health and wellbeing advice. Messages sent to the dedicated number are delivered to a secure website and responded to by one of the trained health professionals in the school nursing team. Texts are usually replied to within one working day.
Royal College of Psychologists - Parents and Young People contains lots of information for young people, parents and carers, about young people's mental health.
The Coping with changes - Samaritans session will help you learn how to recognise changes that may happen in our lives and consider how we cope with change.
Helping Your Child With Anxiety - Young Minds offers many ways to support your child who is struggling with worrying or anxiety.
Some people find that the sex they were assigned at birth doesn’t fit how they feel inside. This can cause a feeling of discomfort and unease that is described as ‘gender dysphoria’. Gender dysphoria is not a mental illness, but having to hide sexual orientation or gender identity can have a negative impact someone’s mental health, so it’s important for everyone to feel that they can be themselves.
If your child's gender identity is causing them distress it's important to let them know that you love, accept and support them, whatever their preference. Your GP who can offer support and referral to specialised services where required.
For more information and advice please click on the links below:
Mermaids - support and information for trans and gender-diverse children, young people, and their families
NHS GIDS - specialised service for children and young people, and their families, who experience difficulties in the development of their gender identity.
With so many children and young people having access to the internet and social media it's really important to be aware of the risks, discuss them with your children and let them know they can speak to you if they are worried about anything.
Below are some sources of information to help you have those conversations:
- Keeping Children Safe Online (pdf)
- Safer Internet - Social Media Guides
- NSPCC - Keeping Children Safe Online
For children and young people:
Tests and exams can be a challenging part of school life for children and young people and also their parents or carers. But there are many ways to ease the stress.
Watch for signs of stress
Children and young people who experience stress may:
- worry a lot
- feel tense
- get lots of headaches and stomach pains
- not sleep well
- be irritable
- lose interest in food or eat more than normal
- not enjoy activities they previously enjoyed
- seem negative and low in their mood
- seem hopeless about the future
Having someone to talk to about their work can help young people share their worries and keep things in perspective. Encourage them to visit their School Nurse at a drop in or send a text via Chathealth. Check out NHS - Coping with Exam Stress for more information.
As a parent it is important that our children are healthy, and that they grow and thrive.
It is worrying if this is not happening, so what can you do?
If you feel your child is under or over weight you can contact the School Nursing service for your area, who will be able to check that they are a healthy height and weight. They will be able to give advice, or refer on to another service (with your consent) if they feel it is necessary. You can check if your child is a healthy weight yourself using the NHS - BMI calculator.
National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP)
When your child is in Reception and Year 6 you will be offered the chance for your child to be weighed and measured. In addition, your School Nurse will send out health questionnaires when your child is in reception, year 7 and year 10.
A healthy diet and plenty of exercise are key to having a healthy weight.
Having healthy eating habits helps your kids achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and teaches your child how to make healthy food choices for themselves.
There are lots of cheap and tasty ways you and your family can eat well every day – use our recipes for inspiration. For information on how your family can eat a healthy balanced diet, use the NHS Eatwelll - The Eatwell Guide.
Looking for healthy meal ideas? Discover sugar swaps, healthy recipes, nutritional advice and top tips and fun activities to help the whole family stay healthy at the NHS change4life.
- Children should have at least 60 minutes of being physically active each day.
- Being active every day keeps their heart healthy, reduces their risk of serious illness and strengthens muscles and bones.
For more information on how to help you child maintain a healthy weight you can have a look at the leaflets below:
Children and young people as part of their development, experiment with things that are a worry, such as alcohol and smoking.
It is a parents role to advise and support children and young people through difficult times, and guide decisions, even those that involve lifestyle choices.
The health implications are huge and research shows that it is best for them not to take part in tobacco, drug and alcohol use until they are fully grown. This gives them the best start in life, along with healthy diet, exercise and hopefully positive mental wellbeing.
You may find the following infomation useful to help you advise and support your young person:
Talking to your child about sex
Young children are naturally curious about their bodies and other people. By answering their questions, you will help them to understand their bodies, their feelings and other people’s feelings. This is a good basis for open and honest communication about sex and relationships, growing up and going through puberty.
If your child or teenager is asking questions about sex, they’re ready for truthful answers. It’s never too early to start talking about it.
Talking to children and teenagers about sex won't make them go out and do it. Evidence shows that if parents talk about sex openly children and teenagers are more likely to have sex at a later stage and are more likely to use contraception.
There’s plenty of advice for parents who wish to talk to their children about growing up, relationships and sex on the Sexwise.
Support for parents
Lots of people feel embarrassed or awkward when they talk about sex and relationships. It’s OK to be honest and tell your child you’re feeling embarrassed. This way they will learn to trust you and know it’s OK to feel embarrassed too.
Don’t just give your child or teenager a one-off talk, build the discussions gradually. This can help your child feel that sex is a normal part of family life. You can use everyday situations or TV storylines to start off conversations - someone is always falling in and out of love in a soap opera!
NHS Choices - Sexual health has information on the six things that parents should know about sex. These are: chlamydia, missing a pill, condoms, emergency contraception, the age of consent and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
OpenClinic gives information on clinics throughout Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, allows you to book appointments and provides some advice.
Confidentiality and protecting young people
The law says that it’s legal for someone to agree (consent) to sex from the age of 16. If the child is under 16, they can still get confidential contraceptive and other sexual health services including abortions. They can get free condoms from some GPs, Sexual Health Clinics or young person’s clinics and as part of the C-Card scheme.
If the child is under 13 years old the law says that they can’t consent to sex. You can find out more about confidentiality, whatever your age, from NHS - If I use a sexual health service will they tell my parents?.
Sexual behaviour in children
The NSPCC - Sexual behaviour in children provides advice for parents on healthy and unhealthy sexual behaviour in children and teenagers, including what to do if you're worried.
We treat information about children, young people and their families as confidential. We do sometimes share information with other agencies, like GPs or your child’s school, so that the young person or child can get the help they need. We would only share this information without your agreement if it were necessary to ensure a child’s safety.