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 Catalog-Item Reuse

Mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing

​About mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing

These pages contain simple ideas to help children: understand more about feelings; learn about relationships, rights and responsibilities; and learn about their bodies and keeping themselves safe.

As your child or young person moves forward with their learning, it is important that their mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing is developed in a safe, caring, supportive, focused environment.

This approach encourages relationships that are based on mutual respect. The four aspects of wellbeing are closely attached and are usually taught together.

Note: children in their early years and Primary 1, as well as some older children, will be working at the Early level of Curriculum for Excellence. Find out more about curriculum levels.

Early level

Mental and emotional wellbeing

  • Take time every day to talk and listen to your child without distractions. Share what you have been doing in the day. Talk about the things that went well and the challenges and how you dealt with them. Encourage your child to do the same
  • Encourage your child to talk about their feelings. Talk about characters in a book or film. What feelings might these characters have in different situations? How do they behave and react to different things in the story? Talk about what other choices these characters could have made. Ask your child what they think about the behaviours and choices made. Ask your child what they would have done in the same situation.
  • Give your child praise and encouragement for their efforts and successes.
  • When things don't go well, support and help them find solutions to problems themselves.
  • Recognise and celebrate when your child has done well, for example helping to put away the shopping, sharing toys with friends, showing kindness and consideration for others or taking part in a game and having fun regardless of the result.

Social wellbeing

  • Children learn through the behaviour they see: think about the behaviour you model and how this values and supports positive relationships.
  • Encourage your child to be independent in their daily lives, for example to dress themselves as far as possible, even if, at first, it takes a bit longer.
  • Give your child some responsibility around the house, for example to put their clothes away once they have been washed, or to help set the table for a meal.
  • Encourage your child to put toys away when they have finished playing with them.
  • On visits to local play parks, encourage your child to share and take turns with other children using the equipment. Praise them for their efforts and attitudes when showing respect towards others.
  • Encourage your child to put litter in a bin/bring it home. Go along with your child on a community litter pick. Help them to take pride in their local community.
  • Get involved! Encourage and support your child to attend clubs and activities. Consider volunteering as a helper or coach if you have the time.
  • Look at family pictures, talk about who is in them and what relationship they are to you and your child. Share some of your stories about these people and what they, as people, mean/meant to you.
  • Start a photograph album together with your child of their life so far. Encourage your child to add in some favourite mementos and a reminder of when the photograph was taken and what it is about.

Physical wellbeing

  • Help your child get enough sleep. Try to have a bedtime routine, including tooth brushing and perhaps reading a story together.
  • By talking about their body and how it works, encourage children to take some responsibility for keeping themselves safe. Help children to recognise when they need to ask for help from others if they don't feel safe. For example, teach your child what to do in an emergency including how to use a phone, how to safely apply sun cream and when to wear a hat, how to behave around ponds/streams/sea.
  • On walks to the local park or shops, be clear about how far ahead your child can go and where to stop and wait. Make it fun, link it to counting steps, vehicles, lamp posts, gates, shop signs or looking for different coloured doors. As your child matures, give them more independence, as you feel is appropriate.
  • Travel on different types of transport where possible and show your child what their responsibility is in each situation to keep themselves safe. Encourage them to share their adventures with others at home and nursery.
  • On visits to the doctor or dentist, explain what will happen beforehand. Ask your child how they are feeling about the visit. Answer questions openly and offer reassurance if needed.

First/Second levels (primary)

Mental and emotional wellbeing

  • Take time every day to talk and listen to your child without distractions. Share what you have been doing in the day. Talk about the things that went well and the challenges and how you dealt with them. Encourage your child to do the same.
  • Encourage your child to talk about their feelings. Talk about characters in a book or film. What feelings might these characters have in different situations? How do they behave and react to different things in the story? Talk about what other choices these characters could have made. Ask your child what they think about the behaviours and choices made. Ask your child what they would have done in the same situation.
  • Give your child praise and encouragement for their efforts and successes.
  • When things don’t go well, support and help them find solutions to problems themselves.
  • Help your child to learn that people have different qualities and outlooks on life. In books, magazines, television or films talk about characters who aren't popular with others or are left out of things. Ask your child how they think that makes the character feel. What would they do to help someone in those circumstances?

Social wellbeing

  • Children learn through the behaviour they see: think about the behaviour you model and how this values and supports positive relationships.
  • Help your child to develop care and respect for others and the environment. Share the responsibility for looking after pets, for example taking the dog for a walk in the park and clearing up after it. Work together to teach pets new skills and tricks. Clean out the hamster cage or build fun obstacle courses for the hamster to navigate. Set aside time to play/watch/care for pets, helping your child to see the fun and rewarding side of keeping pets. If you don’t have your own pets, consider volunteering to look after a friend or neighbour's pet(s)while they are away.
  • Encourage your child to put litter in a bin/bring it home. Go along with your child on a community litter pick. Help them to take pride in their local community.
  • Get involved! Encourage and support your child to attend clubs and activities. Consider volunteering as a helper or coach if you have the time.
  • Look at family pictures, talk about who is in them and what relationship they are to you and your child. Share some of your stories about these people and what they, as people, mean/meant to you.
  • Start a photograph album together with your child of their life so far. Encourage your child to add in some favourite mementos and a reminder of when the photograph was taken and what it is about.
  • Give your child some responsibilities for doing a share of household chores, for example making their bed, washing and drying dishes/emptying dishwasher, putting clothes in the wash, setting the table, helping to prepare meals. Encourage independence and self-belief in their abilities.

Physical wellbeing

  • Encourage your child to make decisions for themselves, for example, selecting what to wear depending on the weather and where they are going. Ask if what they have selected will keep them warm/cool/dry as appropriate. Be prepared to discuss and direct them, if necessary, towards a different selection.
  • Provide opportunities for your child to go outside every day, whether to play or on the way to shops/park/school. Help them to explore your local area and how to travel safely between known places. Set a challenge for you both to find a new way to a familiar place, avoiding familiar routes.
  • Talk with your child about how they think they can keep themselves safe in different situations, for example what to do if their ball rolls out onto the road, what to do if they find what looks like sweets on the grass in the park, what to do if their friend hurts themselves whilst out playing and there are no adults around.
  • Talk to your child about their responsibilities for themselves and toward others when using social media and the internet. What are their views on how these are used? Perhaps find out more for yourself about safe and responsible internet use. Consider doing an online course or attend information evenings at school. 

Third/Fourth levels (S1-S3)

Mental and emotional wellbeing

  • Take time every day to talk and listen to your child without distractions. Share the ups and downs of your day and encourage them to do the same.
  • Encourage and support your child to resolve issues independently and to know when and where to seek help and advice.
  • Keep a sense of humour and perspective to hand and encourage your child to develop this outlook.
  • Praise your child for their efforts and help them to persevere when things don't work out.
  • Believe in your child's ability to think things through for themselves. Let them know you are there to help if need be but don't insist on giving help. The decision/solution they devise may be different from your ideas. If things don't work out encourage your child to see why that was and to think about what they would do differently in future.

Social wellbeing

  • Young people learn through the behaviour they see: think about the behaviour you model and how this values and supports positive relationships.
  • Negotiate and agree how household responsibilities are shared.
  • Remember to thank them for their efforts and attitude and encourage mutual respect.
  • Encourage your child to get involved in local groups/sports clubs. Negotiate how travel to/from clubs etc will be arranged if they need to be driven. Discuss what this might mean in terms of weekend and after school commitment.
  • Support your child's efforts and involvement in school groups and the local community.

Physical wellbeing

  • Talk to your child about their responsibilities for themselves and toward others when using social media and the internet.
  • Help your child to make choices that support their health and wellbeing. Talk about current local and national issues and reports which are of relevance. For example, find out what your child's views are on the way the media can portray young people and their behaviour - do they think it is a fair reflection?
  • Promote and model safe driving, ie not using the phone whilst driving, wearing a seat belt, sticking to the speed limit, showing consideration and tolerance toward other road users, giving cyclists and horses and riders plenty of room and reducing speed accordingly.
  • If your child has completed a first aid course, ask if they will demonstrate/share what they learned with you? Acknowledge their efforts and the skills they have learned that could save someone’s life - perhaps a skill you do not possess?

Senior phase/post-16

Mental and emotional wellbeing

  • Show interest in what your child is doing at school/college/work. Take time to listen to them talking about what is going on in their lives. Listen to them as they talk about their dreams and wishes and agree what support they would like from you.
  • Support them as they develop new friendships and interests. Encourage them to bring friends home and welcome them into your home.
  • Encourage and support your child as they explore different career options, listening to their ideas and thoughts on how to gain relevant experience to support this. Agree to meet and discuss these with others (if requested and possible) from whom your child has sought advice, for example careers advisor, school/college/university staff.

Social wellbeing

  • Negotiate and agree how household responsibilities are shared, taking other commitments into consideration, for example examinations, work, sports and interests and socialising with friends.
  • Respect your child's private space and expect the same consideration in return.
  • Respect your child's views and their right to express them even if they differ from your own.

Physical wellbeing

  • Promote independence and show your child that you have confidence in them to make suitable choices in support of their health and wellbeing, for example respecting their right to choose friends and how they manage their time whilst also being accountable for their actions. (Staying up all night to play games online or chat may affect their ability to get up on time to attend college/work/school but this is their responsibility).
  • Discuss how your child would get home safely after a night out if they couldn't find a bus or taxi. Get them to think through a few scenarios and have some idea of a plan which they will share with you.
  • Ask your child what they would do in different situations, for example, what would they do if they witnessed a fight or someone getting hurt by a group of others?

 

Related links/resources

  • The HandsOnScotland Toolkit has information, ideas and activities to help you support your child's mental and emotional wellbeing. 

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