5 Signs Your Child May Be Struggling

No parent likes to see their child struggle, but with the last year a half’s challenges it has brought to us and our children, we are starting to see a huge increase in children suffering. In the last 3 years, the likelihood of a child having a mental health problem has increased by 50%. 1 in 6 children between the ages of 5-16 are likely to have a mental health problem.

Signs your child may be struggling

5 Signs Your Child May Be Struggling
Photo by ?? Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

Here are some signs to look out for to help you decide as to whether your child may be struggling or not.

1. Low Mood

Of course, as children, we know, just like adults, we all have off days. However, when we talk about the low mood in the context of a child struggling, this means low mood for over a week with very few relief moments within that week. Look for signs to see if their personality changes. Are they usually loud and bubbly, but now they are quiet and subdued? If they are usually quiet, look for signs of being subdued and sad instead of quiet. But this continues.

2. Not as social anymore

Are they avoiding social situations like seeing friends or even family? This will have been not easy to access during the lockdown. Still, as rules start to lift, you may be able to notice more easily if they don’t want to see family or friends or they go, but they rent as excited as usual or seem completely non-fussed about seeing anyone else. Another way to see if they are not as social is to stay in their room more than usual or find that getting them out of the home to see anyone or go to school is a real struggle. Again, children all have their off days, but this will be a sign if it’s been going on for over a week or two.

3. Difficulty sleeping

You may not know as they may not wake up and tell you, but you will be able to notice if they are tired during the day or when they come back from school and are irritable and yawning. Difficulty sleeping can cover different areas of sleep, for instance, falling asleep difficulties, waking up with nightmares and also waking up and not being able to get back to sleep. This is an important one to look out for as lack of sleep, just like with adults, will interfere with how they feel and make them feel worse.

4. An increase in crying or outbursts

Their behaviour change is a key sign to look out for to notice if they are struggling. This is unexplained crying or outbursts for small things which wouldn’t usually get to them.

5. Unexplained physical symptoms showing

For instance, constant unexplained headaches or unexplained stomach aches. They may start saying that they don’t want to eat what they were eating before. All of these are signs that something else may be on their mind.

If possible, at home, try and talk as openly as possible and discuss your feelings. Talk about how you are feeling and make them more comfortable expressing how they feel if they know you aren’t this perfect happy person all the time. Explain to them that it is okay not to be okay. If you need help, please reach out to your local GP, who will be able to refer you to specialists. Alternatively, see our education hub, which has activities and resources to help parents and teachers talk to children about their feelings and look after their mental health. www.sophiesaysofficial.com/education-hub

It's okay not to be okay

Esther Marshall is a Diversity and Inclusion expert, mental health activist, and the author of The Sophie Says children’s books series – making life’s most important lessons fun to learn.

Further reading for your child’s mental health and wellbeing

How to talk to your child about mental health without overbearing
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com
Little girl swinging on monkey bars
Child Sleep
5 Signs Your Child May Be Struggling 2


  • Talya Stone

    May 17 at 12:51 pm

    I saw this in my own daughter during lockdown….thankfully she came out but it is so important to be aware of and be able to spot these signs and keep the lines of communication open.

    1. Sabina Green

      May 18 at 10:14 am

      Yes it is, communication is such a key part of parenting x

  • Lyndsey OHalloran

    May 17 at 9:02 pm

    Erin went through a little phase a while back of being really emotional about a lot and lashing out. We knew immediately something wasn’t right.

    1. Sabina Green

      May 18 at 10:13 am

      Oh, bless her, I think that’s it. You know your children and what isn’t generally ‘the norm’ for them. I hope you got to the bottom of it x


    May 18 at 12:46 pm

    With lockdown I’ve been looking out for changes in behavior much more. We have had problems with one child since they went back to school. It has been a nightmare.

    1. Sabina Green

      May 26 at 9:16 pm

      It’s hard, isn’t it? We have also had a few problems since they returned to school.

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