Families with a range of health problems

On this page:

Poor health or complex health needs

You can find information on children or young people with disabilities and complex health needs on our Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Local Offer.

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Child or young person with special educational needs

You can find information on children or young people with special educational needs on our Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Local Offer.

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Concerns about a child's weight or poor diet

Concerns about a child who may be underweight

If you are concerned that your child is underweight or not growing normally, see your GP. Low weight can occur for a number of reasons.

The GP will weigh and measure your child and talk to you about what your child is eating. If there is a possible problem with your child's diet, your GP can provide advice that will help bring your child up to a healthy weight, or refer them to a dietitian. More information can be found on NHS.UK. 

Concerns about a child who may be overweight or obese

If your child is very overweight, there's lots you can do to help them become a healthy weight as they grow. Very overweight children tend to grow up to be very overweight adults, which can lead to health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.

Research shows children who achieve a healthy weight tend to be fitter, healthier, better able to learn, and are more self-confident. They're also less likely to have low self-esteem and be bullied.

As a parent, there's lots you can do to help your child become a healthier weight. Getting them to be more active and eat well is important. Here's practical advice to help you.

Listen to your child's concern about their weight. Overweight children often know they have a weight problem, and they need to feel supported and in control of their weight.

Let them know that you love them, whatever their weight, and that all you want is for them to be healthy and happy. More information can be found on NHS.UK.

Other useful websites:

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Eating disorder

Eating disorders are are range of conditions that can affect someone physically, psychologically and socially. They complex conditions and include anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. Recovery can be just as complex. It's not as simple as encouraging someone with anorexia to gain weight or forcibly preventing someone with bulimia from vomiting. First, the person with the eating disorder has to accept that there is a problem, and want to make changes.

People who can help

Information can be found on A Guide to Rough Times and on Family Lives.

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Unsafe or sexualised behaviour

Harmful sexual behavior includes:

  • using sexually explicit words and phrases
  • inappropriate touching
  • using sexual violence or threats
  • sex with other children and adults

Children and young people who develop harmful sexual behaviour harm themselves and others.

If you are worried about a child you can call the NSPCC on 0808 500 5000 or CaSH on 0300 300 3030.

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Teenage pregnancy

Finding out you're pregnant when you're a teenager can be very daunting, particularly if the pregnancy wasn't planned. If you decide to continue with the pregnancy, there are a wide range of services to support you during pregnancy and after you've had your baby. Your midwife or health visitor can give you details of local services.

Find out the signs of pregnancy and where to get a pregnancy test.

If your pregnancy test is positive, you may experience a lot of emotions:

  • excitement about having a child
  • worry about telling your parents
  • anxiety about pregnancy and childbirth

You should talk through your options and think carefully before you make any decisions about your pregnancy. You can find information on NHS.UK

The Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) in Peterborough is part of a national preventive programme for vulnerable, young first-time mothers. More information can be found on Family Lives.

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Alcohol or substance abuse

Drinking when you are young has many short term consequences. Being sick or having a hangover are the two most obvious effects of drinking alcohol. But there are many more short term consequences. These include:

  • mood swings
  • weight gain
  • changes to your appearance (making you look pale and grey)
  • disturbed sleep
  • alcohol poisoning

It can also have long term consequences. Drinking when your body is developing can have a long term impact on memory, reactions and attention span and can cause liver disease.

How to access support

If you want to stop or reduce your use of drugs and alcohol, or you just want to find out more about what you're taking and understand the risks, CGL Aspire can help.

You can talk in confidence to someone who will listen to you and answer any questions you may have. Then you can talk about your options and you can choose what you want to do next to make changes in your life. If you cannot get to their services they will come to you, at home, at school, in a youth centre, or any other venue where you feel comfortable.

Other useful websites:
  • Drinksense - provide treatment and support to young people and their families in helping to make changes to their alcohol and/or substance misuse.
  • Family Lives - offer advice and support to teenagers and families regarding drugs and alcohol
  • Talk to Frank - a national drug education service 
  • DrugFam - telephone helpline 0300 888 3853

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Bereavement

Children experience grief differently to adults. One minute, they may be sobbing, the next they are asking: “What’s for tea?” It does not mean they care any the less about what has happened. This is a type of safety mechanism that prevents them from being overwhelmed by powerful feelings. 

Children’s understanding of death increases with age. Under the age of 5 or 6, a child may not be able to understand that death is permanent and that it happens to every living thing. They may talk about the person’s death but then ask if they will be home for tea. Slightly older children may still have the hope and belief that the death will not be permanent but are beginning to understand ‘forever’.

Talking to a child about death can be difficult. It is important to remember there are no exact or correct responses to some of the difficult questions that children will ask you. When children ask difficult questions, there isn’t an automatic need to give a long, detailed explanation; ask the child what they think and then build on their answer. Sometimes children may feel that they were to blame and that a change in behaviour may bring the person back; reassuring the child that they could do nothing to prevent the person dying is important.

Helping children to grieve

  • Encourage them to express feelings through talking, play, stories and art work
  • Give them the opportunity to take part in ‘goodbye’ rituals, if considered appropriate and with parent’s agreement
  • Talk about the dead person, reminisce and share memories; children will want to remember the person who has died
  • Let them ask the same questions repeatedly
  • Give them time to be silent and reflective

Helping children to cope

  • Be honest and open with them
  • Listen, talk and explain and be prepared to repeat explanations often
  • Give them age-appropriate explanations
  • Keep them informed
  • Use specific and clear language, e.g. ‘dead’, ‘dying’
  • Avoid using euphemism or less clear terms, which could confuse or frighten children such as ‘lost’ or ‘gone to sleep’
  • Don’t be surprised by sudden questions, reactions or behaviour
  • Accept play as a diversion
  • Try to keep to routines and structure

When children need extra help

Children will have a range of reactions after a bereavement. These may include: not talking about the person who has died, deep sadness, rage, disturbed sleep, nightmares, lack of appetite or over-eating, lack of interest in previous enthusiasms, not wanting to attend school or see friends. Adults may have similar reactions.

Most of these changes will disappear gradually. However, if they persist or become severe it may be best to seek help. You could start by talking to your family doctor. Talk to your doctor or health visitor for advice on helping your child coping with grief or bereavement. 

How to access support

There are a range of books for children of all ages that deal with issues of death and dying; ask at your local library.

Helpful websites: 

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Poor emotional well-being or low self esteem

For children and young people with poor social, emotional and psychological health there is an increased likelihood of poor social and economic outcomes, in both the short- and long-term.

For example, children with behavioural problems are more likely to leave school with no qualifications, become teenage parents, experience relationship or marital problems and experience unemployment in adulthood. 

How to access support

School nurses can help. Speak with someone in school in the first instance, or visit your GP.

Helpful websites:

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Behavioural problems at home

All families have problems at some time with their child’s behaviour – from temper tantrums, anger and aggression, not sleeping, to moody, difficult teenagers.

As parents we can often find it hard to deal with our children’s behaviour and many of us need help at some time.

It’s important to seek help if at any stage if you are worried about your child’s behaviour, especially if it has changed recently or you’re concerned that it is totally out of character.   

Talk to their school, other family members to see if they have noticed any changes.

Make an appointment to see your GP, particularly if you’re worried about your or your child’s emotional or mental health.  

Children with additional needs

If you believe your child's behavioural issues are due to undiagnosed special educational needs or disability (SEND), speak to staff at your Children’s Centre, your child’s school or your health visitor/GP. They may be able to help you get additional help and advice. You can find more information on the Local Offer.

People who can help

Family Lives offers advice and support on understanding and dealing with tantrums as well as parenting teenagers.

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Parents/carers needing support

Your job as a parent is one of the most difficult there is - it can be both challenging and rewarding.  It is a job where very little training is given to prepare parents for what lies ahead.  There may be times, as a parent or carer, where you need help, advice or information when managing your child's behaviour.  Parents themselves require and deserve support.  Asking for help should be seen as a sign of responsibility rather than as a parenting failure.

How to access support

Across Peterborough, there are a number of avenues for support in relation to parenting.  This might be a parenting group run out of your local Children's Centre or your child's school, one to one support from a Family Support Worker or something more specialist.  In most cases you will be able to access the groups directly.  If you want to find out more contact your Health Visitor or school.

In some situations to access parenting support you may be required to engage in an Early Help Assessment (EHA) which would be completed be someone already working with you.  This will help to highlight strengths for you and your child/children, identify areas in which you may require some additional support and help shape where this might come from.

People who can help:

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