Right Parenting

Parenting and mental health

Families are where children first learn about love, support and belonging.

Children and young people who are part of a strong and supportive family are more likely to achieve their best possible mental health.

Most parents know this. It can also feel like a lot of pressure.

It’s important to understand that there is no ‘perfect’ family. Families are diverse. Each with its own circumstances, joys and challenges. As a parent, having information and resources to understand and care for your child can help. So can looking after your own mental health as much as possible.

Understanding child mental health

We’ve created a mental health continuum to assist you in understanding and discussing social and emotional wellbeing. It can also help you decide what steps to take to look after your mental health right now.

Considering the “whole child” is crucial when addressing your child’s mental health. Understanding their world can provide valuable insights into their experiences.

Numerous factors influence a child’s life and mental health:

  • Their nature, including biological factors.
  • Significant events and experiences they encounter.
  • Their family dynamics, relationships, learning environment, and community.
  • Broader systems such as governmental policies and healthcare services.


Nurturing the whole child involves:

  • Supporting their relationships.
  • Facilitating the development of social and emotional skills.
  • Acknowledging adversities they may face, such as poverty or neglect.

As children grow, their emotional and social lives become more complex. The ability to understand and manage emotions, thoughts and behaviours in positive ways is called ‘regulation’. Learning to regulate emotions is a developmental process.

It begins when your child is a baby and continues into adulthood. For example, when you soothe a crying baby, you’re helping them regulate their emotions. Skills for managing a wide range of emotions are important for a child’s mental health and wellbeing. Children do not develop regulation skills by themselves. They learn from parents and other adults.

Children exhibit a wide range of personalities, preferences, and reactions to situations, even within the same family. These differences collectively form a child’s “temperament.”

You can observe a child’s temperament by noting:

  • Their reactions to people and events.
  • Their approach to new situations or individuals.
  • How they regulate their emotions and behavior.


Adapting your parenting style to accommodate your child’s temperament is crucial. This approach fosters their development and strengthens your relationship with them.

There are likely numerous ways you’re already supporting your child’s mental health and wellbeing, but here are some additional strategies you might consider:

  • Strengthen your relationship with your child.
  • Assist your child in managing their emotions.
  • Stay informed about your child’s progress at their early learning service or school.
  • Familiarize yourself with your child’s friends.
  • Plan activities that build on your child’s strengths.
  • Encourage them to explore new experiences and learn from mistakes.
  • Help them cultivate supportive relationships with other adults.
  • Establish family routines, rituals, and rules.
  • Set a positive example for managing family conflicts, using calmness, compromise, and negotiation.
  • Collaborate with your child to set goals and tackle problems.
  • Provide unwavering support for your child.
  • Assist your child in managing feelings of anxiety or distress by offering attention and support.
  • Educate yourself about common challenges and concerns at different age stages.
  • Promote and facilitate help-seeking, including professional support if necessary.


Remember, parents don’t have to be perfect. What matters most is being present for your child and supporting them in achieving their optimal mental health.