This year's theme is Growing Together. Growing It is about growing emotionally and finding ways to help each other grow. Challenges and setbacks can help us to grow and adapt and trying new things can help us to move beyond our comfort zone into a new realm of possibility and potential. However, emotional growth is often a gradual process that happens over time, and sometimes we might feel a bit ‘stuck’. As parents or carers, you are an important role model for your child. Your child does not need you to be perfect - in fact seeing you make some mistakes can be really useful! What is important is that you are able to show them that you – and they – can continue to develop and grow even when things are hard. In fact, sometimes, this is when we learn and grow the most.
What Can You Do?
Talk about when they were younger
Most children enjoy hearing their parents tell stories about when they were younger. Recall stories that highlight how your child has developed and changed over the years. For example, how you enjoyed teaching them to learn to ride a bike, or swim. Or how proud you were when they took part in a school assembly – even though they were nervous. If you are an adoptive parent, foster or kinship carer, you will still have lots of memories to share from when you first came together as a family.
Notice when and how they have grown
You may have made marks on the walls to recognize how tall your child has grown over the years, or looked at old photos together. It is important to also recognize and praise emotional growth. This could be letting them know how proud you are when they have learnt to walk away rather than fight with a sibling, or how they have learnt to ask others to play when they used to be too shy to do so.
Encourage them to try new things
This could be new foods, a new activity or a new experience. Praise their willingness to ‘give things a go’ rather than whether they were ‘good’ at it. This will give them confidence to continue to develop and grow.
Listen to their hopes and dreams
Encourage your child to see that everything they are doing right now is a tiny step towards who they might want to become in the future. For example, your child staying away from home for a night is a step towards them being able to leave home for study or work in the future. Your child helping another child is an important step towards them becoming a counsellor, a doctor, a nurse or a teacher etc.
Help them learn from tough situations
It can be really hard when your child is not getting on with friends or having a problem with a teacher, or is disappointed with how something has worked out. Acknowledge the difficult feelings, but help your child to see that these situations help us to grow and develop so that we are better able to cope with life’s ups and downs.
Listen to their concerns
Let your child know that if they are worried about something, they should always talk to an adult they trust. It could be you, someone in your family, a teacher or someone else in their school. If you’re worried about your child’s mental health you can talk to their primary care provider or someone at your child’s school.
Look for practical advice
Parenting Smart is a site for parents and carers. It is full of expert advice and tips on supporting the emotional wellbeing and growth of primary-age children.
Activities for Kids (and adults)!!
Data & Statistics
ADHD, behavior problems, anxiety, and depression are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children
9.4% of children aged 2-17 years (approximately 6.1 million) have received an ADHD diagnosis.
7.4% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 4.5 million) have a diagnosed behavior problem.
7.1% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 4.4 million) have diagnosed anxiety.
3.2% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 1.9 million) have diagnosed depression.
Some of these conditions commonly occur together. For example:
Having another disorder is most common in children with depression: about 3 in 4 children aged 3-17 years with depression also have anxiety (73.8%) and almost 1 in 2 have behavior problems (47.2%).
For children aged 3-17 years with anxiety, more than 1 in 3 also have behavior problems (37.9%) and about 1 in 3 also have depression (32.3%).
For children aged 3-17 years with behavior problems, more than 1 in 3 also have anxiety (36.6%) and about 1 in 5 also have depression (20.3%).
Mental, behavioral, and developmental disorders begin in early childhood
1 in 6 U.S. children aged 2–8 years (17.4%) had a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder.
Rates of mental disorders change with age
Diagnoses of depression and anxiety are more common with increased age.
Behavior problems are more common among children aged 6–11 years than children younger or older.
Many family, community, and healthcare factors are related to children’s mental health
Among children aged 2-8 years, boys were more likely than girls to have a mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder.
Among children living below 100% of the federal poverty level, more than 1 in 5 (22%) had a mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder.
Age and poverty level affected the likelihood of children receiving treatment for anxiety, depression, or behavior problems.
Mental Health Screening Tools for Youth
Taking a mental health screening at www.MHAscreening.org is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.
The Parent Test is for parents of young people to determine if their child’s emotions, attention, or behaviors might be signs of a problem.
The Youth Test is for young people (age 11-17) who are concerned that their emotions, attention, or behaviors might be signs of a problem.