2 children blowing bubbles - Getty images

Children with social, emotional and mental health difficulties may be withdrawn or isolated, they may display challenging or inappropriate behaviour, their needs may be expressed in a variety of ways. Children are likely to need support across all areas of need and so activities designed to support communication or cognitive skills will also support the development of social, emotional and mental health.

The following activities are designed to support social skills and for the child to recognise their own emotional and mental health needs. You are not expected to complete all of the activities but to choose the ones that you are drawn to and interested in. It is hoped that by engaging in these activities you will begin to recognise other opportunities for supporting social, emotional and mental health.


What comes next?

This activity will enable you to become familiar with daily routines, to think about and plan for what comes next.

What you will learn
You will learn to plan every-day activities, to recognise that there is a sequence to activity and so build your confidence and independence. You will start by thinking about the sequence of brushing your teeth and then use the skills you gain to plan other daily activities.

What you will need

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, water
  • Paper and pen, coloured pencils

Children's Christmas teeth

What you will do

1. Think about how you brush your teeth
2. Write or draw on your piece of paper what you need:

  • Then think about each action you take to brush your teeth and write or drawn this on your sheet of paper
  • First I open the lid on the toothpaste
  • Second, I squeeze a small amount onto the toothbrush, and so on
3. Then design your own flash card showing the equipment that you use and each step that you followed

Implemenation tips
This activity can take some time, ensure that you have a clean space to work in that is free from distractions. Have to hand all of the equipment that you need.

Extension activity
Follow these steps for other daily routines such as having a shower and making breakfast.

Tips for parents
It is important that children and young people develop the skills to be independent and confident in their daily lives. While this may be a very small and focused task it can be built upon to become more complex over time. There are links here to other domains of learning such as cognition and mathematical skills through sequencing, physical skills through fine motor movement, literacy in writing.


Large scale body mapping

This activity is all about working with someone very close to you – a friend or family member, to think about why they are important to you and how they are special.

What you will learn
You will learn to communicate your thoughts and feelings about a friend or family member through a fan large scale activity.

Hand holding pen, drawing, writing.Getty 1273476353

What you will need

  • A friend or family member
  • Chalk or pencils
  • A large flat outdoor surface that you can write on or make marks on with chalk
  • Or if indoors, a large flat space on the floor covered in paper such as wallpaper

What you will do

1. Ask your friend or family member to lie down on a clean surface free from debris
2. Draw around them with chalk or a pencil
3. You can colour in the silhouette if you want
4. Then write down the key things about them that you like. You can do this on separate pieces of paper and then attach them if you prefer

Implementation tips
You can start with describing the things you like such as their hair or the colour of their eyes. Think about what they do that is special for you and make a note.

Extension activity
If you use paper for this activity you can hand the model in your room and add to it as time goes by. Think about different ways to decorate it being as imaginative as you like.

Tips for parents
Encourage your child to think deeply in this activity about why this person is important to them. This activity can develop over time and so using old wallpaper might work best if they wish to return to it. There are links here to other domains of learning such as literacy skills in writing down their ideas, but also recognising how their special person makes them feel and why.


Family tree

This activity is designed to support social and emotional skills through recognising family relationships, supporting a sense of belonging and support.

What you will learn
You will learn all about your own family, those you see every day and perhaps others in history.

What you will need

  • Paper and pens
  • To talk to your family to find out about your family tree
  • You might wish to take photographs and so need a camera

Father and child making a family tree, education, teaching.Getty Images 1166882812

What you will do

1. In the centre of your piece of paper near the bottom write down your full name and circle it
2. Then add next to you the names of any brothers and / or sisters, connecting them to you with a line
3. Above your name add your parents names and draw a line connecting you to them
4. Above them add their parents names (these would be your grandparents) and connect them with a line
5. You can go as far back in history as you like
6. You may wish to take photographs of those you can and add them to your family tree

Implementation tips
You may need to add more paper as your family tree grows. This is something that may take some time and you can add to in the future.

Extension activity
You may wish to use different colours for different generations of family, or different sides to your family. You can use the internet to research your family through history and find out what they did and where they lived.

Tips for parents
You may need to guide your child to find out more about the history of their family and to use the internet for their search. Encourage them to speak to wider members of their family, grandparents and cousins to find out more. There are links here to other domains of learning such as literacy skills in writing down family stories, and cognitive skills in making the connections between family members over time.

Download these activities as a printable PDF