Updated: Oct 26, 2020
Due to the current pandemic, our routines have suddenly changed. We have adopted new ways of working from home, online learning and increased use of technology, which we may not be used to. It is normal for you and your child to feel incredibly anxious during this time as we are reliant on external factors. There are countless news reports and social posts being thrown at us all the time. For younger people, this may result in increased anxiety and distress. We have come up with a quick guide on how to make things slightly easier for you, and your child.
1. Acknowledge that it is okay to be worried:
We’ve seen many news reports and social posts giving us unclear messages about what is happening and how we can help each other in this time. It is challenging for us as adults to understand what’s going on, so take a second to think about how younger people feel, they pick up a lot more than we realise. Help them to understand that you are also worried, but reassure them as much as you can. Speak with them about what they already know and try to clear up any worries they currently have. There are so many brilliant and hardworking people around the world helping to find cures and treating those who are unwell. Reassure them that schools will be open someday, and they will get to see their teachers and friends again soon. If they have the opportunity, help them Facetime or Skype their friends! Additionally, quite a few schools are using resources such as Google Classroom. Try to encourage them to get involved with any discussions with their classmates and teachers. This will be a nice way for them to stay connected.
2. Help them reflect on their feelings and worries:
We do not know all the answers, but we can use our resources to help keep us up to date by researching news that concerns us. Younger people have a lot of unanswered questions, especially when they don’t own the resources we have. Anxiety may have caused them to overthink and worry more about something they may have heard. Speak with them in an age-appropriate way to help them understand what's going on. Ask them about their fears and worries and allow them to communicate these with you by providing an attentive ear.
3. Balance their news consumption:
It’s good for children to stay updated on the news. Popular websites and programmes such as Newsround are great at explaining top news in a concise way. Make sure they are not too fixated on these updates though! Lots of exposure can overwhelm or harm them mentally. If they are with you whilst you are reading or watching the news, there’s no need to hide it! Go through the news and facts in an unbiased way that we know already. This will help them to come to you when they hear anything they’re unsure of. Try to also check in with them regularly.
4. Offer safety:
By being honest and clear of what is happening, this creates a sense of trust. All children want the reassurance that their parents will keep them safe. Have open discussions and speak truthfully. Offer suggestions on how they can also look after themselves, either by hand washing more, or looking after their mental health. Encourage them that being kind can also help them feel better knowing that they have made a small difference to someone’s day.
5. Family Activities:
If you are working from home, or if your child is getting through school work during the day, spend time as a family doing things together - but make sure you are also sticking to the guidelines set. Take your daily exercises together, have lunch at home together, play board games, have open discussions and encourage hobbies to reduce their anxieties and to help them focus on something positive. This is a great time for families to connect, make the most out of it if you can! Spending an hour of your day together may help in ways you didn’t see before!
6. Look after your mental health:
Currently, we are in a very unusual experience. Remember, this is not going to be the norm. We will fight this together by sticking to the guidelines set. It is okay to be sad and to feel like this is a never-ending journey, but this is the start of something new for us all. Make the most out of this. Read a new book, spend time with the family, learn some new recipes or pick up a new hobby. Whatever you choose to do, the same guide above can apply to you too! Speak to someone if you are feeling anxious. Clear up any news that you are uncertain about. You are not alone in this. If you need to speak to someone please visit Every Mind Matters for clear advice and actions.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. Have you got any top tips on looking after your child during this time?
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