Support for children and young people

There are many reasons why you might want a bit of extra help. This article has been specifically created for a young person who’s experiencing problems. Whether you’re having problems at home or at school, or you need help and advice for your own relationship, the following content will help you to learn more about how to cope with some of the most common issues young people face.

From speaking to lots of young people we know that there are many reasons that life can be difficult:

My parents are always arguing and I don’t have anyone to talk to about it

It’s perfectly normal for adults to argue and disagree with each other from time to time. In fact, it’s actually healthy for them to discuss their differences in opinion rather than keeping them bottled up, which can lead to feelings of anger towards one another.

Even if people are rowing regularly, there can still be a lot of love, care and affection in their relationship. In fact, experiencing your parents disagreeing isn’t always damaging and may help you deal well with arguments as you grow up.

However, it’s different if the arguments become heated and occur too regularly.

Children and young people often worry that when parents argue it means that they no longer love each other and may separate or divorce. It can also be very upsetting to hear your parents call each other unkind names and raise their voices at each other.

Here are some important things to remember:

  • Arguments are not necessarily about you or anything that you’ve done, but rather between the two of them.
  • You are not there to be a referee.
  • Try to stay out of the argument. If possible go somewhere else in the house, close the door and find something else to do until they have finished arguing.
  • Even though your parents may resort to calling one another names and saying unkind and hurtful things to each other, this doesn’t mean that it’s okay for you to do likewise.
  • If your parents lose control and this results in them hurting each other, they will need the help of another adult to get their anger under control.

What you can do:

If you need to speak to someone about things that are happening at home, it’s important that you speak to someone such as:

  • A relative you trust
  • One of your teachers
  • Another adult whom you trust
  • Your school’s counsellor
  • A therapist.

A counsellor or therapist will know how to help families work on their problems, such as rowing and fighting. They can help by teaching family members to listen to each other and talk about their feelings without yelling and screaming.

Although it may take some work and time, families can learn the skills needed to get along better.

Many young people seek help every year for support with problems like this. There is lots of support available and that help is waiting for you when you need it.

I’m getting bullied at school

Bullies are often very cunning and expert at getting away with it.

Bullies can operate either alone or as part of a wider group. Bullying can take many different forms including verbal (name calling), physical (hitting and kicking), virtual (cyberbullying – threats or name-calling via the internet, social media or messaging apps) or a combination of all three. Bullies know exactly how to upset their victim by picking on their sensitive points.

If you are the person being bullied, you’re likely experiencing a whole range of emotions, from feeling very upset and shut out, to possibly even feeling suicidal or using self-harm to cope. You might feel alone, helpless, or powerless, and afraid that if you tell anyone, the bullying will just get worse. This can affect your health, confidence, self-esteem, and your school work.

How to resolve the problem:

  • Where possible, try to ignore the bully. Remember the bully is looking for a reaction from you, so don’t give them the satisfaction.
  • Tell a teacher whom you trust. The bully won’t find out that you have told the teacher. The teacher can also quietly alert other teachers and keep a watch on the situation to potentially catch the bully red-handed. Alternatively, if you find it hard to speak to the teacher, you could always write them a note.
  • Tell a friend whom you can trust. Remember it’s always good if you have a witness whenever possible. If you feel that you would like some moral support, ask your friend to accompany you when you go to speak to the teacher.
  • Tell a parent or guardian, or an adult you trust. Bullying will not stop unless you speak out.
  • Keep a diary of the dates, times and instances when the bullying occurs.
  • If you think that your health is being affected in any way, speak to your family doctor. It may also be a good idea to speak to a counsellor. Many schools now have access to a school counsellor. If not, they can arrange for you to have access to a counsellor who is specially trained to help support you during this unpleasant period.

Sometimes, the bullying will occur outside of school hours, and as a result the school may not wish to get involved. Where this happens, you still have options available to you, including informing the police about the bullying.

Remember that the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is ten years old. So if the person or people who are bullying you are aged ten or more, your parents can support you in making a complaint to the police. Behaviour such as hitting or kicking is assault and calling you names or making rude gestures over and over again could be harassment.

The police have a range of options including the power to apply for an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) to keep the bully or bullies away from you.

Remember: no one has the right to bully you.

Supporting your wellbeing

Children and young people can struggle with their wellbeing in the same way adults do, but you are not alone. It’s really important to remember that your emotional wellbeing is just as important as your physical health.

How to talk to your parents about your emotions

We know it can be hard to speak to our parents about topics such as our emotions and how we feel. Here are some practical tips to help you talk to someone and open up the conversation about your emotional wellbeing:

  • Speak to a trusted adult. This could include your parents, a teacher or a healthcare professional.
  • Find a time when they aren’t distracted so that they won’t be interrupted while you speak to them.
  • Try to stay calm as you explain how you’re feeling, avoiding raising your voice or getting angry. It’s understandable of course that you might feel angry about what’s going on for you, but your message will be clearer if you keep your emotions in check.
  • Allow the person supporting you to ask questions. This will help them to understand what you are feeling and will better allow them to offer up solutions to the issues you are facing.

Remember feeling down or anxious about something is normal and is part of being human. These feelings don’t mean that you have a mental health condition or require any further support.

Where to get help

It is critical that you speak to your parents as they may decide it might help if you speak to the family doctor. Your doctor will be able to provide you with advice and guidance on how best to support you which may include accessing a counselling service. Counselling isn’t something to worry about – many people use counselling to help them deal with a variety of issues.

You might also want to access online resources to help. For example, there are some really helpful apps that can be found on www.nhs.uk and www.youngminds.org.uk