How to support your daughter’s low mood

What is low mood? 

Many children experience ‘feeling down’ for short periods of time. It might involve feelings of general sadness, worry, low self-esteem or tiredness or more anxious feelings of frustration or anger.  These are referred to as a child’s ‘low mood’.

There are ways we can improve feelings of low mood: getting more sleep, talking about problems, or resolving a difficult situation, can reduce negativity. However, if your child’s low mood continues to last for a longer period of time – more than two weeks – you might consider visiting your GP to ensure feelings of low mood are not a sign of depression.

 

Key signs

  • Irritability - your child is more irritable with you, other family members or their friends.
  • Lack of energy or motivation – less interest in doing the things they usually enjoy.
  • Loss of humour - struggle to laugh at things that would usually amuse them.
  • Tiredness – complaints of feeling tired or sleeping longer than usual.

 

Causes

Many triggers can affect a child’s low mood. There may be difficulties at home or at school, problems within relationships and friendships etc. Low mood can be affected by a particularly difficult event, such as a bereavement or it can come about for what appears to be no obvious reason. Uncertainty can be very difficult for parents because it limits how well we can support our child – this can be a very worrying time.

 

Tiredness 

One of the most common reasons for a child’s low mood is not getting enough sleep.  If your child stays up late chatting to friends, doing homework, going on social media or playing games, then tiredness could be the main cause of their low mood.

The NHS publishes recommendations for the amount of sleep children should get, depending on age: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/how-much-sleep-do-kids-need/

 

Nutrition

Our mood can be dramatically altered according to our sugar levels. Encourage your daughter to eat something in the morning before starting lessons at school - a good breakfast can really help.  A well balanced diet containing whole grains and plenty of fruit and veg will help them avoid sugar spikes which can affect mood. Avoid processed and junk food as much as possible.

 

Hormones

Girl’s menstrual cycle can affect their mood – during their period their hormones can make them feel low and tired. Supporting your daughter to know their cycle and key times that affect their mood with help to understand feelings at different times of the month.

 

Effects of Technology

Whilst there is no evidence of a link between screen time and low mood, over use of technology can affect your daughter’s sleep patterns and view of themselves, which can ultimately affect their mood.  For example, when a child takes a mobile phone to bed with them at night the constant new alerts and updates can lead to them checking their phone for messages during the night and therefore affect their sleep. Social media can also have a negative effect on self-esteem and increase a feeling of low mood.

 

How to help

Talking about it

Whilst children don’t always want to discuss their feelings, it is helpful that they recognise how and why they are feeling a certain way so they are more able to manage it. Talking about how your daughter is feeling and encouraging them to express their emotions can make a big difference to how they are feeling.

 

Set some routines

Having clear routines and boundaries in place can alleviate some of the causes of low mood. Setting rules about device usage – such as time limits and where they can be used - can help to alleviate tiredness. Charging a phone in another room to the one they sleep in, along with stopping device usage an hour before sleep, can help to calm a child at night and promote better quality of sleep.

 

Gain some perspective

Help your daughter to understand the difference between real life and social media – is everything they see a true representation? Are the images edited? Enhanced? With most people only sharing their best images and happiest moments online, is this a realistic representation of everyday life?  

 

Engage in other activities

Distract your daughter with alternative activities – spending time listening to music, cooking together, and going out on trips and visits can improve low mood. Physical activity, such as walking, running, cycling, swimming can be very good for their mood and activities which involves fresh air in particular.

 

 

Further support:

NHS                     

Young Minds        

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)

Children’s Society

St Philomena’s Catholic High School for Girls

Pound Street

Carshalton Surrey

SM5 3PS

T: 020 8642 2025

 

For general enquiries please mail:

enquiries@stphils.org.uk

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