Children with social, emotional and mental health difficulties (SEMH) often struggle to manage their emotions and behaviour and find it difficult to make and sustain relationships with adults and peers.
Children with SEMH may:
- become withdrawn or isolated
- display disruptive and uncooperative behaviour
- have temper tantrums
- have anxiety
These children often struggle to engage in a learning environment and benefit from additional support in achieving their potential.
SEMH does not have to be a life-long condition. With the right support children can move forward in their development and live successful and happy lives.
How to support a child or young person with SEMH
Recognising and processing emotions
It is important to normalise feelings (even the uncomfortable ones). This will allow your child/ young person to understand that emotions are healthy and are temporary. This creates a trusting bond between both you and your child where they can talk about their feelings and allow them to feel safe.
You can help your child/young person to recognise emotions by using music, movies, books, imaginative play and so on. You could model to your child how you feel, ‘I feel frustrated because we missed the bus’, or how you think they feel, ‘You look happy because you are smiling’. Perhaps after a situation you could say, ‘How did that make you feel?’. Try to use different emotions so they are able to express themselves correctly. Examples of emotions are: happy, sad, frustrated, surprised, overwhelmed, scared, anxious, angry, irritated, enthusiastic, excited, joyful, nervous, fearful, relaxed or calm.
Self-regulation and co-regulation
Ways of coping can be grouped as self-regulation and co-regulation. Self-regulation is the ability for child/ young person to manage their uncomfortable feelings and responses to overwhelming situations. In order to teach a child how to self-regulate they need to experience co-regulation. Co-regulation relates to responding to your child when they experience these overwhelming emotions. If this is modelled to your child, they will be able to copy this when you are not present or unavailable. This increases their resilience in the world and gives them with skills they can use throughout their lives.