Looking after your child's wellbeing

Wellbeing comes from physical, mental and emotional health. For children and young people, there are many things that build positive wellbeing.

Wellbeing can come from:

  • understanding and managing emotions
  • having good relationships
  • experiencing a sense of accomplishment
  • using their strengths
  • taking part in healthy activities, getting lots of sleep and eating well.

Build your child's wellbeing

There's many things you can do at home to help build and sustain your child’s wellbeing.

Praise, encouragement and positive attention

Praise helps your child feel good about themselves, which boosts self-esteem and confidence. It can also encourage good behaviour.

You can:

  • give your child praise when they behave in ways that you want to encourage
  • give your child attention. For example, play a game with them, do an activity together, send them a friendly text message, ask about their interests
  • praise your teenager for their strengths
  • let your child know you are proud of them.

Positive self-talk

Self-talk is the way we talk to ourselves with our inner voice. Positive self-talk is when we say positive things to ourselves. Self-talk has big impact on how we feel and what we do.

Encouraging your child to talk to themselves in a kind and positive way can help improve their wellbeing and help them manage stress.

When you hear them speaking about themselves that is not kind, you can:

  • bring it to their attention
  • ask them if what they are saying is true
  • get them to think of a more helpful thought
  • encourage your child to ‘speak’ to themselves the way they would speak to a best friend
  • regularly remind your child of their strengths and accomplishments.

Maintain good relationships

A positive relationship with your child is critical to supporting wellbeing.

  • Share family memories and stories together.
  • Try to eat a meal together each night.
  • Establish and maintain family rituals and routines.
  • Social connections are vital for your child’s wellbeing. For example, helping your child stay connected to friends is important.

Take notice or being mindful

Mindfulness is paying attention to how you feel and what you see, hear, taste and smell. It is the opposite of rushing and multitasking. Mindfulness is being in the present rather than thinking about the future or the past.

It can make us more aware of our thoughts and feelings and can help reduce stress and anxiety. Mindfulness can help us slow down and promotes rest and healing.

Smiling Mind has created digital Care Packs to support the mental health of kids aged five to 12. The resources can be downloaded from the Smiling Mind website and provide parents and carers with practical support to help manage anxiety and promote positive mental health.  Each pack includes brief learning tools as well as activities for children to use within the home or school environment.

To download the pack, see:  Smiling Mind Digital Care Packs

For more information about mindfulness with children and young people, visit: Smiling Mind.

Practice kindness and gratitude

Gratitude is about taking some time to recognise and celebrate the people and things we love and are thankful for. Being grateful can have a big impact on wellbeing as it strengthens relationships and makes us more optimistic.

You can help your child practice gratitude by talking to them about:

  • things that make them happy
  • things that inspire them
  • people and things that nurture them
  • experiences and thoughts they would like more of
  • helping them notice small pleasures like a cool breeze or a warm smile.

Being kind to others also supports wellbeing. It promotes feelings of gratitude as well as compassion and empathy. Kindness helps to build a sense of community and reduces stress.

With your child, make a list of all the ways they can be kind to family, friends and your community. Together, chose a few things to practice being kind.

Promote help seeking

It can be hard to ask for help but it is important that your child knows that it is okay. Encourage help seeking in your child by:

  • asking how things are going
  • letting them know it’s okay if they are feeling sad or frustrated
  • listening without judgement when they seek out your support
  • providing teenagers with a range of information about where to get help if they need it.

Set rules and boundaries

Clear rules and boundaries help children and young people feel safe.

Involve your child in making the rules and they will be more likely to stick to them. Negotiating rules is a way of showing you respect their growing maturity.

Wellbeing activities and conversation starters

There are things you can do with your child to build and maintain their wellbeing. Most of them are short, fun and require very few materials.

These activities and conversation starters cover six key elements that are important to wellbeing. There are also activities that focus on positive thinking and gratitude as well as breathing exercises that promote calm.

Understanding emotions

Understanding emotions helps your child to understand themselves and other people.

We can do this by focusing on recognising, expressing and managing emotions.

Understanding emotions is key to building empathy and self-awareness.

Personal strengths

Help to build your child's ability to recognise and understand positive qualities in themselves and others.

The will help to build your child's self-confidence and the capacity to face and manage challenges.

Positive coping

Provide opportunities for your child to discuss and learn different types of coping strategies.

This will increase your child's ability to manage stress, control impulses and overcome obstacles.

Problem solving

Your child can develop their critical and creative thinking skills to explore different types of problems.

This can build your child's ability to make responsible decisions that consider the likely consequences of different ways of solving problems.

Stress management

Learn about different calming strategies to deal with stress.

This can help your child to cope with challenges they are facing now and in the future.

Help seeking

In these challenging times, it's important to normalise asking for help.

Your child will learn to recognise situations in which to seek help, identify trusted people in their lives to ask for help and practice asking for and providing help.

More information can be found in wellbeing activities and conversation starters for:

Additional resources

  • Advice, tips and resources - help to support your child's health and wellbeing, including online safety, attendance and getting involved in your child's school.
  • Parentline - a confidential phone service that offers counselling and support on parenting issues.
  • Raising Children Network - evidence based resources for everyday parenting.

Contact your child's school

If you are concerned about your child’s wellbeing, you can contact your child’s school.

Start with their classroom teacher, year level coordinator or the wellbeing leader. They can give you advice, or put you in touch with someone who can help.

If you're unhappy with the response from the school, you can raise your concern through our school complaints process.

Easy read advice and activities

The Department has written a simple version of this information and activities for you and your family.