Why are relationships important?
Relationships with other people are important to our mental health. Positive, healthy relationships with family and friends, can boost a child’s mood and can support them during tough times. If a child doesn’t have many close relationships, or their relationships have broken down, this can cause them to feel lonely. If their relationships are negative, abusive or involve violence this can lead to a child feeling unsafe, scared and sad.
How can I help children with their relationships?
Schools and organisations are important places where children develop positive relationships and draw on this support. Schools can also help children to learn about positive relationships involving effective communication. Think about how your school/organisation builds, repairs and maintains relationships at a whole-school and individual level. Nottinghamshire schools and education organisations have created a practical toolkit to use to support relationship-based working.
It can be difficult for children to build relationships with other people and to trust them. There are lots of reasons why relationships might be hard for a child and if this is the case, let them know that it’s ok to ask for help. These are some possible reasons but there are many others:
- The child might have autism or a learning disability which means that it can be difficult to understand other people and learn how to talk to them.
- In the past, the child might have been harmed or hurt by someone they trusted and that can make it difficult to trust other people.
- They might be struggling with a mental health difficult like anxiety or depression that makes it difficult to open up to other people.
- They might feel different or unsure of themselves and find it hard to connect with other people.
What to do if a child is experiencing/has experienced abuse or violence?
Abuse is always wrong and it can be very difficult to talk about. If you’re worried about a child you know experiencing abuse, find out what abuse is and who can help. Ask for help for yourself too if you need it.
There are different types of abuse:
- Physical Abuse - being hurt by someone for no reason
- Mental or Emotional Abuse - being treated badly, such as always being ignored or criticised
- Verbal Abuse - saying or shouting or writing horrible things
- Neglect - not being looked after and kept healthy
- Sexual Abuse - being touched where you shouldn’t be or forced to take part in sexual activity
Abuse isn’t always carried out by a stranger and can be someone the child knows, which can make it feel hard to speak out about. Let the child know that abuse is always wrong and it is not their fault.
If a child talks to you about abuse, say things like:
- Thank you for telling me
- I am sorry to hear that happened to you
- How can I help?
Check out the Learn More and Get Help Now links on this page.