Many children at some point in their lives feel like they don’t fit in and that they are different from other people.
This week we reported that since lockdown measures were first introduced, there have been almost 2,500 Childline counselling sessions with children in Scotland who were worried about mental and emotional health issues including loneliness and low self-esteem.
Our counsellors have heard from children who have said they feel isolated, anxious and insecure.
The NSPCC has now launched a new campaign, called Nobody is Normal, which aims to help children understand that lacking confidence, feeling not good enough, or that they don’t fit in is a shared experience.
We developed the campaign with young people through focus groups, and it features an animation of a young boy who is struggling with anxiety while desperately trying to appear ‘normal’.
The ‘creatures’ in the short film are used to represent inner feelings, like anxiety and depression.
We want to let all children and young people know that we’re all different, and therefore nobody is ‘normal’. Nobody should feel ashamed to talk about how they feel or show who they are on the inside.
There are a number of ways in which a child may feel different to their peers. For example, they may feel self-conscious about the way they look; struggle with mental health; worry about how others will react to their sexuality; or have experienced something difficult in their life.
Some signs that your child may be feeling anxious about something might be that they are more irritable than normal, are having mood swings or have become closed off.
It is always helpful to have open and honest conversations with your child about how they’re feeling, and to let them know that you’re there to listen and they can ask questions about things that are making them feel uneasy.
Speaking to other people about their differences may help them build their confidence, and lessen their anxiety.
Sometimes, it may be easier for a child to get support from someone who has gone through something similar to themselves, to help them realise that they are not alone. Our message boards on Childline.org.uk are a great way for young people to chat with their peers, and share anonymous experiences on a moderated platform.
Children can contact Childline for free on 0800 1111 or childline.org.uk 365 days a year, and speak to a counsellor about any worry or concern they may have.
If you’re worried about a child for any reason, our NSPCC helpline can be contacted at email@example.com or on 0808 800 5000