3-11 years: Helping your child to be happy

As your child grows up, they become more independent, but they need your love and care as much as ever.  Friends, teachers and other people become important to them.  But parents are still the most important people in a child's life!  They love having your company and attention.  They need your praise and want you to be proud of them.  Their security depends on you - they need parents they can rely on.

The closer you are to your child now, the better things will be for you and them when they are teenagers.


Give your kids attention.  Listen to what they say - don't dismiss their feelings and opinions.  As they grow up they'll tell you more of what they feel.  You can help them understand their own moods and worries.  Reassure them that it's alright to feel sad, angry or scared sometimes.  Carry on giving them plenty of hugs and physical affection as they get older.


Children look up to you and copy your behaviour.  When parents fight, get angry or blame others for their problems, children learn to do the same.

When parents take responsibility, value themselves and are kind to other people, children learn to do the same.  Show them how to deal with difficult feelings.  If you are in a bad mood, tell them why. Say sorry if you treat them unkindly or unfairly. Get help with problems.  Show your children you can change and deal with things.

Just try and do the best you can.


Every family goes through problems and changes which can't be helped - but you can help our child understand and deal with their feelings.  Things which are likely to make children unhappy or worried:

  • Illness or death in the family
  • Parents separating
  • Family or friends leaving
  • Stress or arguments in the family
  • Moving house
  • Starting or moving school
  • Parent having a new partner


If you go out to work, make time to be with your children when you are home.  Don't wear yourself out doing everything for them - helping with household chores gives them confidence.

Find places and things you enjoy together - shared experiences and memories make close families.

Children want your attention because you are special to them - enjoy it!


You will have more to give your child if you take care of yourself.  Try and get some time for yourself.  If you are unhappy, find someone to talk to.  Depression can cut you off from your children.  Using alcohol or other drugs changes your mood and behaviour - and can upset your child.


Children -

  • Can't always tell you what they feel
  • Get frightened by things they don't understand
  • Blame themselves for things happening around them

Notice Signs Of Unhappiness:

  • Being extra quiet
  • Arguing or getting angry
  • Behaving worse than usual
  • Stealing or telling lies
  • Being 'clingy' or frightened
  • Spending time alone
  • Acting young for their age


  • Let them talk about their feelings
  • Give them extra hugs, affection and praise
  • Don't expect too much of them
  • Don't critise them for 'babyish' behaviour
  • Be as honest as possible about what's happening
  • Reassure them and help them feel safe


Is the information on this page correct? If not, please let us know.