Parents of children aged 5-11

A dad with his childrenAs children grow up, they deal with changes and different challenges all the time. Sometimes, that change can feel difficult and it takes time to adjust. You might notice some behaviours in your child during times of change or when life is feeling difficult, for example:

  • They might be especially clingy, tearful or reluctant to go to school
  • They might have physical symptoms like an upset stomach, feeling sick or a headache
  • Their sleep might be affected and they might wet the bed
  • They might be very argumentative or uncooperative.

If you're worried that your child needs some more support, you might find it helpful to talk to your GP, their teacher, or the school's Special Educational Needs Coordinator about your concerns. If appropriate, they will be able to refer them to CAMHS or another local organisation that can offer assessment and support.

Our guide for young people on Feelings & Emotions may also include relevant information you could look at together.

As a parent, it can be hard to know where to turn for reliable information and guidance, so the links in our Resources for Parents section might also be helpful.


If your child is having particular problems or worries and they're in need of extra emotional support, you might also find it helpful to look at some of the information below together.

How do you feel?

Worries are a part of everyone’s life. You can worry about your family, friends, school, your pets, anything. Sometimes your worries become really important. These upset you so much that you find things to do to make yourself feel better and then, you have to keep doing them. Sometimes these things don’t make a lot of sense, like checking over and over again.

What can you do if you have worries like these?

First let someone know, perhaps a grown up like a parent or teacher or someone you trust. Then, maybe you will talk to CAMHS or a doctor to be less worried about things.

Sometimes we just don’t want to eat even though we are hungry. It doesn’t make sense but it’s difficult to change the way we feel. Feelings and worries can have a big impact on what we do. Not eating can be caused by something that is worrying us. Sometimes we worry about our weight and the way we look. Also, nobody should make you feel bad or sad about your body, it's called bullying and it's not okay. If you feel like someone is being mean to you about the way you look, then talk to your mum, dad or your teacher about it.

Not eating enough is a big problem and bad for your health. If you can’t eat or find it hard to eat, talk to someone, like an adult you trust and see if you can explain to them how you are feeling.

Sharing your feelings and worries with a grown-up can help to put them right.

“I am always getting told off in class for not concentrating, even if I am trying really hard to pay attention. It’s so frustrating and annoying! There are so many things happening in my class, I can’t help myself and I have to investigate. When the teacher makes me sit down, I am ready to burst and can’t stop myself from fidgeting, wriggling and shouting out the answers. Every day this happens at school and at home but I don’t know what to do!”

If you have similar problems, tell someone that you don’t like being in trouble because you can’t concentrate and you would like help.

Making friends can be a difficult thing to do. When we start at a new school or in a new class it feels like everyone already has friends except you. A good way to make friends is to find people who enjoy the same things as you. Look for school clubs or listen to others in class who talk about things you like.

Some people have lots of friends and some only have a few, it doesn’t matter as long as you are a good friend to the ones you have. If you find it’s really hard to make friends and you can’t work out why, talk to your parents or teacher or an adult you trust and see if they can help.

Many children find it difficult to do be away from their parents, like going to school or staying at a friend’s house. It can make them feel frightened and unhappy, but learning to be away from our parents is part of growing up. These feelings are quite normal and you can learn to be brave.

Learning to make friends and being away from home are things we all have to do, and extra help can make all the difference. Telling a grown-up can help make it easier for you.

When someone you are close to dies, dealing with how you feel can be very hard. It may be that your pet has died, or one of your relatives, and this can be very upsetting.

The sadness can take over everything in your life, but it’s normal to feel sad, angry, confused and hurt.

These feelings can be painful but they do get better with time. Crying is a really good way of letting the feelings out, or try drawing or writing them down. Don’t be afraid to talk about the person who died. This helps to remember them and helps the way you feel.

Let people know how sad you are feeling and remember if the person you first speak to does not help or does not believe you then speak to someone else.

There are many reasons why families split up and it is a difficult time for everyone. When your family splits up it can mean that changes are going to take place, like having to live with only one parent or not seeing one parent much anymore.

Remember it's parents who decide to separate, it’s their decision and something you could not have stopped.

It’s not your fault. They are separating from each other, not you.

You are not alone and talking about how you feel can make you feel better.

If you can, talk to both of your parents/carers about how you feel. If you don't want to talk to your parents/carers find a teacher or a close grown-up family friend who you trust.

Sometimes you may be concerned about a close friend because you have noticed changes in their mood, appearance and behaviour. Your friend might have even confided in you that they have a problem.

If you are worried about a friend, the best thing you can do is let them know you are concerned. They may really appreciate you asking how they are. You should also encourage them to talk to a trusted adult who can help them, like a parent, teacher or school nurse. You could also use this website to help you find out about mental health problems.

Hearing someone else’s worries or problems can be upsetting for you too. Make sure you talk to someone like your parents, another friend, teacher, school nurse or an adult you trust about how you are feeling. By looking after yourself you will also look after your friend.

Starting a new school can be a great adventure, but sometimes a bit worrying too. There are ways to help you feel happier about changing schools.

Tell your teacher or parents that you are worried about changing schools. Ask if you can visit before you start, many schools have special sessions where you can get to know the school and how it works.

Stay friends with friends from your old school. If it is a long way from your new school write to or phone your friends and remember it’s the school that is changing, not you!