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WATCH: What Happens When A Child Contacts Childline?
Be honest with yourself. How would you feel if you found out your child had called Childline or used it’s text or live messaging service?
If the answer is horrified/dismayed/upset/confused, we get it. There is a misconception that if a child calls Childline it must mean that they are in some form of deep distress or crisis, that they have nowhere else to turn and that something has gone very wrong in their lives.
Occasionally, that is the case.
But more often than not, children and young people get in touch for much more mundane, but equally valid, reasons.
They’re bored, they’re lonely, they had a fight with you, they’re sick of being stuck at home, they’re worried about exams. We’re happy to talk to young people about ANYTHING that’s on their mind.
The main aim of our service is to listen, believe and support the young person at the other end of the chat. Our focus is on resilience – empowering them to find the solution that’s right for them.
Childline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It’s free, confidential and non-judgemental. Sometimes children just want to chat to someone who doesn’t know everything about them. The hope is that they will turn to you when they’re ready but in the meantime, we’re happy to listen and help them understand whatever it is they’re going through.
An Introduction to Infant Mental Health
“For infants and young children, mental health may be defined as the capacity to grow well and love well.”
When we talk about our childhood, there are probably very few of us who can recite memories from our infant years so it can be mindboggling to grasp just how much importance they have in how we grow and develop!
In fact, it is during those pivotal early years of development that we begin to establish foundations for positive mental health and wellbeing throughout our lifespan.
Infant mental health refers to how well a child develops socially and emotionally from birth to three years and how their first relationships influence them.
Starting from birth, babies seek out human connections and before they can crawl, infants can recognise different emotions – sadness, anger and happiness – and know what tone of voice matches the appropriate facial expressions.
Babies and infants also experience all these emotions themselves. However, in these early years, infants cannot manage their feelings on their own and need help to soothe, settle and deal with them.
This is where their parents and caregivers come in to offer a trusting and safe relationship by responding and nurturing those early feelings.
So what does all that mean if you are a parent and want to promote your infant’s mental health?
There are a number of important interactions that can prepare the way for strong, healthy, social and emotional wellbeing in your infant:
- Make time to connect and communicate with your baby through smiling, talking, touch and massage.
- Respond to your baby when they are unsettled. This is not ‘spoiling’ them as they learn from you how to regulate back to a calm state which prevents the behaviour from escalating.
- Babies respond and flourish in environments that are predictable and nurturing so having a routine is vital for their development.
- Taking time to understand your baby’s behaviour helps you understand what they may be experiencing so you can respond. For example, looking way and blinking are ways your baby shows you that they may need a rest.
- A soft, soothing voice or gentle cuddling in your arms can help soothe or settle your baby.
- Be mindful of your own feelings and experiences as a parent. This is important for your own self-care, but also because what you are going through can affect your child. Remember, parents do not have to be perfect. Babies just need their parents to be good enough.
ISPCC Childline wants children and young people to Have Their Say!
ISPCC Childline is keen to hear the views of children and young people, now more than ever.
With so much uncertainty in their world, it’s vital that we continue to be there to provide relevant and engaging services to them if or when they need us most.
We want to know what’s important in their world – the music they listen to, people they admire, the things they talk about with their friends, their interests and hobbies, their wellbeing and more.
What’s their favourite TV show? Do they prefer gaming or social media? Is Snapchat still a thing?!
In order to improve and develop the services we provide, we’re asking children and young people to fill out the short survey below or at this link.
It’s anonymous, it will only take about 10 – 15 minutes of their time and they might even enjoy it!
Remember, if you ever need help or just a shoulder to lean on, the ISPCC’s Support Line service can be contacted by emailing [email protected] or between 9am – 1pm Monday – Friday by calling 01 522 4300.