Wellbeing in early years settings

Mental health and wellbeing

Early years settings have an important role to play in supporting children's mental health and wellbeing. A child’s wellbeing is linked to their motivation to learn and participate. It is important identify if a child's wellbeing changes. It is also key to communicate to parents and carers about their children’s wellbeing.

The Department for Education have released guidance on Mental health in schools. This aims to help settings support pupils whose mental health problems show in their behaviour. It includes:

  • Setting's roles and responsibilities in relation to mental health and behaviour
  • How schools can identify if a child’s behaviour may be related to a mental health problem
  • How to support the mental health and wellbeing of children
  • Advice on working with other professionals and external agencies where appropriate
  • Links to support available to settings, including frameworks, audit tools and resources



Children may experience the death of somebody they know. When someone close to a child dies, whether a family friend or close relative, the impact can be huge. In some cases, the death will be sudden and in others, there is more time to prepare the child.

Children will grieve in different ways and at different times. This can result in a range of responses or reactions. It is important that practitioners know how to talk to and support children who are about to experience, or have experienced, a loss.

Southampton’s Early Years' and Childcare Service offers guidance to settings. So practitioners can feel confident in supporting children and their families with bereavements. We also offer advice when settings experience the death of a child, or experience bereavements within their team or community. We can signpost to other organisations who can offer more extensive support.

Practitioners can ask for our help around any bereavement. We aim to respond quickly with support.



Some behaviours, although frustrating for adults, form part of children’s normal development. For example, when young children learn how things work, they may hit and throw objects. They can also test their developing voice with high screams. As well as testing other people’s responses to their cries.

Young children move on quite quickly from both these stages. Yet as they get older they may start to display aggressive behaviours such as hitting or kicking. This is often as they are struggling to communicate or get something they want.

It is natural and healthy for a certain amount of boisterous and even conflict play to happen in early years settings. Especially as children start to explore the world and people around them and learn cause and effect. But, it is less than ideal when that behaviour means that children start to hurt one another.