This section of our website aims to provide parents and carers with practical tips
and resources to help children and young people in their care.
FOR PARENTS /CARERS
At Bromley Y, we understand how difficult it is to have a young person in your care who is suffering with emotional difficulties which can affect the whole family, not just the young person in question. We would like to help you and your young person overcome these difficulties, so please feel able to make a referral to us.
Our service is provided free of charge, based in central Bromley and our practitioners are non-judgemental, caring and friendly.
If you are worried about a young person’s mental health or behaviour we can help you.
For 1:1 support from a qualified practitioner, you can make a referral to Bromley Community Wellbeing Service or look at our helpful advice for Parents and Carers below.
One of the challenges is knowing when a worry should prompt you to take action: is this something you can help with as a parent /carer or should you seek professional input?
It’s important to trust your instincts, you are the expert on your child, but it can be helpful to reflect on the following questions:
• What specific behaviours concern me?
• How often do these behaviours occur? How long do they last?
• Are these behaviours outside the typical range for their age?
• How long has this been going on for? How long did it take me to notice or become concerned?
• How much are these behaviours interfering with their life?
o Are they disrupting family life?
o Are they creating difficulties at school and/or affecting their attainment levels?
o Are they impacting their friendships and social life?
o Are they impacting your life?
Some of the points above may help you identify common signs of emotional wellbeing difficulties in your child and consider if some self-help strategies can make a difference.
Young Minds also run a free, confidential parent/carer helpline Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4pm if you wish to discuss concerns about a child’s emotional wellbeing and seek some advice:
0808 802 5544
Bromley Children’s Project (BCP)
BCP is a borough wide service that operates across six children and family centres. Bromley Wellbeing work closely with BCP and they are the service we most frequently refer families to due to their fantastic range of support options. You can self-refer through their website for individual or group support, or ring for advice about any concerns or difficulties you or your child(ren) are experiencing. A brief overview of support available is listed below but please visit their website for more detailed information and to consider if BCP is the right service for you.
BCP currently operate a Parenting Hotline to support parents/carers during lockdown with advice, or reassurance. Simply ring: 0208 461 7259. You will be asked some basic details and then someone will call you back for a chat.
Family Support and Parenting Practitioners work with families to relieve pressure and stress by supporting families with difficulties including housing, employment, finance and relationships as well as addressing emotional and physical wellbeing.
Courses for Parents and Carers
BCP run several free courses to empower parents/carers and help them to manage the challenges of family life. Courses are targeted at a range of issues and age ranges to ensure they are as relevant as possible to those attending and provide opportunities to share experiences with families going through similar difficulties.
Courses last 5-13 weeks, consider families holistically and cover topics such as addressing challenging behaviours, managing anger and improving self-esteem. There are also courses to support parents/carers of children with Autistic Spectrum Condition (Cygnet Course) and ADHD (New Forest Programme).
Support groups for children and families are also available
If your child is resistant to opening up to you, encourage them to talk to a trusted adult at school and offer to arrange this if it would be helpful.
You can also direct them towards services for young people such as:
• Childline: 0800 1111 or web chat at
• Kooth: online chat with counsellors for children and young people https://www.kooth.com/signup
Opening a conversation can be a good start if you are worried about your child. Asking them about their day and how they’re feeling demonstrates that you’re interested and invites a conversation rather than jumping straight into your concerns which can sound accusing and provoke a defensive response.
When children and young people open up, the most important thing is simply to listen. Our protective instincts might scream at us to jump in and try to solve their problems. Alternatively, if we hear what sounds like a trivial or ‘normal’ issue, it’s easy to dismiss their concerns which can lead to them shutting down or feeling silly. However, allowing them to talk and air what’s on their mind is what they need at that moment.
• Try to validate and normalise their experiences by saying things like “That sounds really difficult for you” or “I’m sorry you’re struggling with that at the moment” and “I think that I would feel very sad too if that was had/was happening to me” or “I can understand why you might feel that way” even if you don’t necessarily agree that their emotional response is warranted.
• Non-verbal communication such as small nods and reassuring smiles can be sufficient prompts to encourage a young person to continue speaking about their difficulties.
• Demonstrate genuine curiosity by asking questions which require more than a yes/no answer. For example, “Can you tell me more about that?” This shows you are interested in what they are saying and there to support them (and gives you more insight to what they are going through!)
• If the conversation reveals a problem that can be addressed, ask your child what they would find helpful instead of making decisions for them. It may be something you would not think of and by letting them take the lead in problem solving, you’re encouraging independence as well as increasing the likelihood of any action being effective. Encourage your child to generate a range of different solutions to the problem so they can then decide which one is likely to be most helpful.
• Try to remember that children and young people do not always know why they feel a certain way or even what exactly they are feeling at all! By listening, validating and asking open questions, you are helping them explore their own emotional wellbeing in a safe space. The success of these conversations is not dependent on gaining a clear sense of what or why.
Helpful resource ...
Young Minds website have a great section for parents and carers on how to talk to your child about their emotional wellbeing, including a list of helpful conversation starters. https://youngminds.org.uk/starting-a-conversation-with-your-child/
We hope that you have found information which has been helpful to you under our topic headings above. If, once you have worked through the ideas mentioned above, you feel that your child or young person needs more support, please consider making a referral to us. If your child or young person is suffering with difficulties we have not mentioned here, you can call our referrals team contact us who will be happy to discuss your difficulties and make some suggestions about a service that may be able to help you.
Information about other useful websites
It is important when you are completing the referral form that you check all the contact details are correct, including the email address. We will often use the email address to contact you, so if you don’t use it regularly, please do not provide it and indicate that you would rather be contacted by telephone call or text.
When you complete the referral form, please give as much information as possible about the boxes you have ticked under the ‘reasons for referral’ section of the form.
It is especially important to explain how the young person’s daily life is affected by their difficulties, for example, their social life, friendships, eating, sleeping, schooling, family life and any relevant history as well as any triggers for certain thoughts/behaviours.
Video help from Sam
What happens next? – Triage:
• Your incoming referral will be looked at by our team of experts and we may call you if there is information missing or if we need to clarify anything.
• Referrals are prioritised for assessment based on the contents of your referral form. It is especially important that you have given all the details surrounding any of the boxes you have ticked on the form. Make sure that you include how these difficulties affect everyday life and whether there are any risky behaviours to self or to others with details about this.
• If it is felt that Bromley Y would be unable to help you, then you will receive a call from a member of our staff explaining why this is and suggesting who would be a better source of support for you.
What happens next? – Waiting for Assessment:
• Once your referral has been discussed by our team of experts and accepted, it will be added to a waiting list.
• When the referral comes near to the top of the list, the young person or parent/carer will be contacted inviting them to attend an assessment appointment.
Click here to to see our assessment information for young people
What happens next? – Assessment:
• The assessment appointment will be held over the phone or at one of several places around Bromley. Please check your email carefully to be sure you make note of the location of your assessment. Not all assessments are held at our Ethelbert Road building in central Bromley.
• The assessment is an information gathering exercise to be sure that we fully understand the difficulties the young person is facing. Including their history, friendships and relationships at school and at home. We would like to understand the emotional difficulties they are experiencing, the things that trigger these and the way they are affecting the young person’s everyday life, sleep eating, social life and general wellbeing.
• On arrival, you will be given a short form to complete so that we can check that essential contact details are correct on our system.
• The young person will then be collected by the practitioner they are due to see.
Click here see our practitioners so that you can familiarise yourself with your practitioner before you arrive.
Parents can ask to speak to the practitioner alone if they wish to.
How long is the assessment and what happens?
• The assessment itself is about 1 hour long.
• The parent/carer or young person will be asked to give their written consent for us to store personal details and to share them with other professional third parties such as GPs, schools, social services, CAMHS or other medical professionals involve with the young person.
• The practitioner carrying out the assessment will discuss treatment options with you. Occasionally, it is felt that our service is not the right one to support the family/young person at this time and in those circumstances an onward referral will be made, or they will be signposted to the most appropriate service instead.
Bromley Community Wellbeing Service (BCWS) is the single point of access (SPA) for all children’s emotional and mental wellbeing in Bromley. The Child & Adolescent Mental Health services (CAMHS) in Bromley for more severe/long-term mental health difficulties involving young people who are considered higher risk and in need of more intensive treatment.
If it is felt that your child requires more support than BCWS can offer, your child’s referral could be discussed with CAMHS to provide this treatment.
If your GP has indicated that the young person could benefit from an assessment for autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) then a referral should be made to the community paediatricians at The Phoenix Centre in Bromley by your school or GP.
It is also possible that there are other organisations available who would be able to help you more appropriately than we are able to and this would be discussed with you prior to any onward referral being made.
About anxiety, stress and worry …
Anxiety is a normal emotion that can be useful and actually improve performance, but it is understandable to be concerned about your child if they seem more stressed or worried than usual. We all experience anxiety at times – it is often an appropriate response to events happening in our lives e.g. school transitions, exam times. However, it can become a problem when it is severe, prolonged or happening so often that it interferes with a child’s everyday life, eg. stops them from attending school.
Often children and young people who exhibit high levels of anxiety (which sometimes is shown in angry outbursts and aggressive behaviour) have learnt this response from other family members. Who else is anxious in the family and is this something that they can talk about with the young person? How does their anxiety present itself, who notices it and how is it managed, including what strategies and skills do they use to feel better? A child’s anxiety can also impact parents/carers and family life in general – you may have to do things a certain way or make adjustments for them.
Problematic anxiety occurs when we overestimate how likely or dangerous a worrying situation is and underestimate our ability to cope with it.
About low mood …
Children and young people are not the first age group that comes to mind when we think of low mood but it is one of the most common referral reasons at Bromley Wellbeing. Feeling sad is often a normal response to events happening in our lives, but children and young people can end up ‘stuck’ in patterns of negative thinking and the low feelings do not go away.
These are some of the observable signs of low mood:
• Seems more down/less happy in general – do not seem like themselves
• Tearful or easily irritated
• Lacking motivation and energy
• Loss of interest in things they used to enjoy
• Spending increasing amount of time by themselves/not wanting to communicate
• Sleeping too much or too little
• Increase or decrease of appetite
• Poor concentration/easily distracted
It can be difficult for parents and carers to judge whether these are signs of low mood or whether they are just part of growing up. The stereotypical ‘moody teenager’ is irritable, cannot be bothered to do things and spends more time by themselves in their room than with the family. However, if their low mood appears persistent, with few or no periods of happiness, and it’s impacting their life at home, school and/or with their friends, it is likely they would benefit from some extra support.
Addressing challenging behaviour and emotional outbursts
All children from toddlers to teenagers will have their challenging moments when they push boundaries or their behaviours cause concern. However, some children and young people really struggle to manage their emotions in a healthy, effective way which can lead to anger, aggression, conflict or emotional ‘meltdowns’ when the child appears to be overwhelmed to the point of distress. They may seem to swing into a ‘negative’ emotion very quickly, over the smallest of triggers and their reaction will seem completely disproportionate to the situation e.g screaming, crying, throwing things, etc. Additionally, it can take them a long time to calm down.
Like many aspects of emotional wellbeing, these difficulties can become a vicious cycle: outbursts or challenging behaviours create feelings of frustration or confusion – particularly if there are negative consequences – which then adversely affect mood, increasing the likelihood of another outburst. If these behaviours are creating problems at school and at home, it can be very easy for young people to be labelled and, to label themselves, as a ‘bad person’ or feel like people are picking on them.
If this is your main concern about your child's wellbeing and it is impacting family life, please consider speaking to your school SENCo and seeking support from Bromley Children Project who work with parents/carers to help address these issues with the whole family in mind.
Advice for Parents & Carers
About disordered eating, over-exercising or body image issues ...
If this is a concern, a good first step is to take your child to the GP to check their weight, height and BMI. Your GP may also suggest a blood test to check other vital health considerations which may be indicative of a problem. This data can help you and other organisations make informed decisions.
For Bromley borough, the Child and Adolescent Eating Disorders Service is based at the Michael Rutter Centre at the Maudsley Hospital. They now have a self-referral telephone line for young people and their parents/carers, open 9am-6pm: 020 3228 2545.
Referrals can also be made via their website, which additionally has information about eligibility criteria and interventions offered:
NHS SLAM – Eating Disorders
If you have some concerns about the young person’s eating/weight, but emotional difficulties are the main presenting issue, a referral to Bromley Y may be the right first step.
BEAT : https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/
Where there is a lot of useful information about eating disorders generally and a helpline service.
Young Minds: Supporting Your Child with Eating Problems
Discovering that your child is self-harming can be very distressing, you may feel that you experience a range of emotions such as sadness, anxiety, anger, and guilt. However, it is really important to keep the focus on what you can do to support your child and not look place any blame on yourself or your child.
We know that self-harm is a form of communication, so try and think what your child might be communication through their self-harm. Try to speak to them about how they are feeling and what you might be able to do to help.
Some young people find talking about the self-harm very difficult as they may feel an element of shame. Perhaps you could try to talk about how they are generally without focusing solely on how and why they have hurt themselves.
We know that this is never an easy time for parents/carers. Help is available via your GP who may suggest a referral to a local service such as ourselves.
Hearing that your child has suicidal thoughts can feel devastating, you may also feel panicked and afraid.
It is important to understand that suicidal thoughts are common, but we must always take what the child is saying seriously.
Think about what they are communicating to you, are they having suicidal thoughts in response to a family situation, bullying or have you simply noticed that they are not happy right now.
Try to keep the line of communication open, as this will be your way of being able to connect and monitor how they are.
Be watchful of how your child behaves, try to get them to spend time where you can keep an eye on them rather than them being sat in their room.
Discuss any concerns you have with your GP who may make a referral to ourselves or another local agency to provide support and if you feel your child has any serious intention or plan to end their life then you should attend your local Accident & Emergency Department.
Advice for Parents & Carers about ASD and ADHD support in Bromley
At Bromley Y, we understand that looking after an autistic child or a child with ADHD can make huge demands on your time and energy, causing emotional strain. We recognise that this may leave you feeling exhausted, particularly now when respite options are limited, and this no doubt puts pressure on your family relationships and entire family life.
Read more about support in Bromley