For Parents / Carers

Many young people need help and support from time to time.

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.

There are a number of options you could consider without the need to make a referral:

• You could suggest that the young person of secondary school age joins one of our webinars which cover topics such as anxiety, low mood, exam stress and healthy study habits.

• You could watch one of our parent/carer videos or join one of our webinars which include topics such as understanding anxiety, fears and worries and emotionally based school avoidance

• You can read some of the helpful advice in the section below.

If you still feel that a therapeutic group, mentoring or support from a qualified practitioner may be needed, you can make a referral to Bromley Y by clicking the 'Refer Now' tab at the top of the screen.

Your Questions Answered

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?
   * Are they disrupting family life?
   * Are they creating difficulties at school and/or affecting their attainment levels?
   * Are they impacting their friendships and social life?
   * 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.

You may find our useful website guide helpful to seek advice from organisations such as Young Minds.

Bromley Children’s Project (BCP)
The project is a borough wide service that supports families living in Bromley to create a safe, secure and happy environment for all children, by reaching out to expectant parents, current parents and young people aged up to 18 years; particularly those who are struggling and need additional help.
The Bromley Children Project is linked to all Children and Family Centres, and works with private, voluntary and independent Early Years providers in the borough.
The Children and Family Centres are open to all families although our services are targeted at families with children aged 0-5 and expectant parents.

Aims
• Support families with children aged under 18 by offering quality targeted parenting courses and one-to-one family support.
• Provide impartial information, advice and support for parents of children with special educational needs.
• Provide impartial information and advice for all parents on their child's transition from primary school to secondary school.
• Help all children make the most of their time at school by empowering parents, encouraging them to be enthusiastic and involved in their children’s education, and to continue their own education and training.

Courses and workshops

BCP offer a comprehensive range of courses and drop-in sessions for parents and their children through their Children and Family Centres, such as:
• Support for those who have experienced or witnessed domestic abuse.
• Parenting courses.
• Baby massage.
• Healthy eating.
• Targeted support groups.
• Midwives' clinic, baby clinic and breast-feeding support.
Their sessions are ideal for parents and their children aged under five focusing on child development, school preparation, family support and parenting, health and wellbeing and acquiring new skills.

Organisations and topics mentioned in this section are listed in our useful website guide.
You can access that document here.

Hard to start the conversation?

Opening the lines of communication 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 normalize 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 into 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 has 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.

Organisations and topics mentioned in this section are listed in our useful website guide.
You can access that document here.

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 who will be happy to discuss your difficulties and make some suggestions about a service that may be able to help you.

You could also take a look at our Useful Websites document which may provide you with information about an organisation that can help you.    

About Referring

How to make a referral:

You can download or complete the referral form on our website Bromley Y
. If you wish to complete it offline, you can send it by email to broccg.bromleyy@nhs.net
It is important that you read the text at the top of the referral form which explains how to complete the referral properly.

If your referral is emailed to us, you will receive an automated response email confirming that we have received it.

If by any chance you do not receive the confirmation email, please call us on:
020 3770 8848 and we can check that your referral came through ok.

OR

You can call 0203 770 8848 and the contact officers will be able to help you.

Video help from Sam

Refer Now

What happens when we receive your referral? – Contact Officers’ support

SEE THE FULL JOURNEY INFORMATION PDF

• Your incoming referral will be looked at by our contact officers who will check that we have enough information to help us understand what the main mental health difficulties you are experiencing are. We may contact an adult to confirm consent at this stage depending on your age and to check we have the correct contact details. 

• All referrals are screened daily to see if there is anything we need to talk to you about. This is our first part of triage and helps us to ensure that your referral is prioritised properly. It is important that you give us all the details about the boxes you have ticked on the form - especially about current or previous self-harm or suicidal thoughts. Make sure that you include how these difficulties affect your life every day.

• If we need to talk to you about any of the harming information you have provided you will receive a call from one of our Risk Support Team. We will find out more about how you are feeling and give you some information about how to keep yourself safe. We may need to talk to your parents, carers or other professionals that know you who can help keep you
safe.

• If it is felt that Bromley Y would be unable to help you, you will receive a call or email from a member of our team explaining why this is and suggesting who would be a better source of support for you.

To find out about the initial contact call/telephone assessment.
READ more ...

The young person will then be assigned an appropriate practitioner.

Click here see our practitioners so that you can familiarise yourself with your practitioner before you arrive.

The Bromley Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing Service(MHEWS) 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 Bromley Y 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.

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Understanding my child's emotions

As a parent or carer, it can be difficult to understand what might be going on for your child, even when you know they are not quite themselves.
See below for more information about common difficulties they can experience and practical tips on how you can help:

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.


Read More

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.

Helpful resources:
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

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Other Help Lines
  • CAMHS Crisis Line 020 3228 5980
  • Childline 0800 1111
  • Samaritans 116 123
  • Saneline 0300 304 7000
  • HOPElink UK 0800 068 4141