How can I help boost my child’s feelings of wellbeing and happiness?

Everyone has ups and downs in mood – it’s natural for our mental health to fluctuate in this way. As a parent or carer, it’s a good idea to let your child know they can talk to you about their emotions when they need to. 

If your child is finding things difficult right now, it may help to try some mood-boosting tactics.

Collect words of kindness

Encourage your child to collect nice things that people have said or written about them. This could be cards, emails, or feedback from teachers. It could be something a friend has said. Or if the words were spoken in person, suggest your child writes them down.

The process can help to highlight how much they are valued by others, and build self-esteem. Keep the collection in a safe place so your child can find it any time.

Write a compassionate letter

Suggest your child writes a letter of support to themselves. If they want, they could address the letter to a “friend”. This friend has the same qualities as your child. They have the same strengths and weaknesses, and feel insecure and sad about the same things.

  • Ask your child what they’d say to a friend who felt as they do.
  • Get them to write their thoughts down, and then address any worries or doubts.
  • Make sure they make an effort to be kind, understanding and forgiving. This is also an opportunity to remind the friend of all their good qualities.
  • Suggest your child keeps the letter and re-reads it whenever they need encouragement.

Create a happiness jar

Make a jar for happy memories. When something good happens, get your child to note it down on a piece of paper, fold it up and put it in the jar. These events can be big or small.

  • Get them to think of a few happy moments in the past week.
  • They can then keep noting things down when other positive events take place.
  • Noticing the good bits of life in this way can help to build gratitude for what they have.

Take a moment to breathe

Get your child to put aside between 10 minutes and half an hour to relax. Suggest they use the time to focus on doing as little as possible. It should be time to let themselves “be” and reflect on their day, instead of trying to achieve anything.

Help them to create a peaceful space where they’ll find it easy to take time out.

Give your child’s health a lift

Your child’s physical health is closely linked to mental and emotional wellbeing. Try playing some sport, going for a walk together, or working out together in your home. This will help them experience the feel-good hormones released by exercise.
Eating well as a family will help too. Check for inspiration online (try searching ‘healthy’ on the BBC Good Food website).

Lift someone else's mood

The mood of those around us affects how we feel. This means our behaviour has the power to boost someone else’s mood. Encourage your child to be mindful of this as they go about their day. What type of vibes do they think they’re giving off to those around them?

If something happens during the day to upset them, can they find a positive spin on the situation? Are they sensitive to how others are feeling? Ask what they could do to be kind today and lift someone else’s mood. Think about how your own behaviour – could this be affecting how they’re feeling?

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This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

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