How has your day been?

Our children depend on us for love and protection but spend increasing amounts of time in school and with friends as they get older. We only get  snippets of information about what is going well and what is a struggle.  ” How was your day?”  is one of those frustrating questions where it is hard to get an answer.  Instead of loosing sleep or shining a bright light into your child’s eyes until you get an answer why not try my silent wellbeing survey which is accurate but unobtrusive.

1. The bed test.

If your child is extremely reluctant to get up in the morning and hard to get to bed in the week then possibly they are not enjoying what is on offer.  Like that job you had that paid well or had prospects but which bored you to tears or worse still scared the life out of you. Not wanting to get up EVERY MORNING is a sign.  Even when a child isn’t excited by all their classes they usually have one or two favourites and also want to meet with friends.  So they may like their bed but they do get up and it isn’t a major daily battle.  If the bed test suggests all is not well then look out for these other signs.

2. Routinely avoiding homework

Until children get into their GCSE options, homework should not be a heavy commitment and can be done reasonably quickly with a little encouragement. When a child avidly avoids all homework it suggests a lack of confidence in their ability to do the work satisfactorily. It may mean that they are finding work hard but also it is possible that they are setting too high a standard for themselves and are afraid of failing to meet expectations.

3. Having few outside interests.

A happy, confident child wants to spend their time productively and has hobbies and interests they are keen to do.  A child who does nothing with their free time or who asks for ideas saying I’m bored is liable to lack self belief. They are likely to be feeling a little lost and uncertain.

4. Living on top of a volcano

Children are naturally more emotionally volatile than adults as they are still learning how to manage their feelings.  However a child who is often volatile and has rapid mood swings is clearly not happy with their world. Something is clearly getting under their skin.

5. Having friendship troubles

A happy, confident child finds it easier to attract friends and copes better when friendships run their course.  They can approach people they are drawn to and find ways of joining in with a new group. When a child is home more than seems to suit them or is trying hard to please others then this is a sign they are feeling vulnerable socially.  Self esteem and security are highly dependent on feeling you are valued and that you belong to a close and supportive group.

Boosting wellbeing

If your child does seem vulnerable in any of these areas don’t panic. Look at how you can help them quietly and unobtrusively so they don’t loose face. Here are some ideas which will help you make a plan. Choose one step at a time and see how it works for you.  Before you start ask your child what is going well and what they are proud of and later ask what is a pain and what might make a positive difference.

  •  lighten up their life with some fun and laughter so they get a good dose of the happy hormones which lift moods. It is easier to start making changes when you get a little lift.
  • look at the time management of the day to make sure there is enough free time to relax and play.  If your child seems over timetabled what can you cancel for now?
  • does your child have an interest or a hobby that reassures them what it feels like to succeed and make progress? How can they do more of this or get the chance to talk about what has gone well and what they are looking forward to next.
  • does your child have confidence in their strengths and are there opportunities to work to their strengths regularly?
  • can school throw any light on the homework issue? Could you organise a plan to get homework  done with less fuss and avoidance strategies.
  • can you support your child’s friendships by inviting children to visit or go out with the family?
  • ask your child what is going well and what they are proud of and later ask what is a pain and what might make a positive difference
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About hooperj

I am a child psychologist and wellbeing coach and author of What Children Need to be Happy, Confident and Successful: Step by Step Positive Psychology to Help Children Flourish which is published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
This entry was posted in Positive Parenting and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to How has your day been?

  1. Morag McGough says:

    Wow! You could be writing about my son! 3ams sometimes 4 of those issues highlighted sound just like him. Life feels a constant fight to help him be more positive.
    Praise, love, encouragement, raising his unhappiness with school. All tried, seems very little changes. Anger, resentment, attitude are the norms. And he’s only 9!!!!

    • hooperj says:

      Hi Morag,
      Sadly not all children find childhood the best time of their lives. Often the spirited ones find the lack of independence and control very frustrating, especially at school. As you say, you need to stay patient and positive to help him reframe things and see them from a positive angle.
      I hope he soon finds more enjoyment and satisfaction.
      Good Luck

      Jeni

      • Morag McGough says:

        Am really hoping that high school helps – feel he needs more challenge than he is being given at primary. We’ll see!
        In the meantime as the quote says
        “keep calm and carry on” or as i would rather put it “keep calm and eat some cake!!!”

      • hooperj says:

        I’m with you on the importance of cake. I have also found the move to high school is the making of many children, so fingers crossed.

  2. Saadia haseeb says:

    Nice piece 🙂

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