Helping Children Cope
COVID-19 is a new illness and everyone, especially children, will find this situation very strange and confusing. They may express how they are feeling and ...:
- be irritable, grumpy or disruptive
- have problems sleeping
- become teary
- be clingy or need extra attention
- be quiet or want to spend time alone
- develop fear of strangers or new things
- ask lots of questions
- act younger than their age
- have headaches or stomach ache
There is no right or wrong way to feel about what's going on right now, but how you react is important.
Remember: Your reaction can shape your child's views and feelings. What's important is to be sensitive to and curious about new and confusing emotions. Provide routine, structure, predictability and be consistent - all this will make your children feel safe and secure in a world that does not appear to offering any of those things.
Supporting children through this difficult time
Frightening events widely reported in the media, such as the coronavirus pandemic, can cause children to worry about themselves and others.
Age appropriate information - Explaining coronavirus
Too much news can be overwhelming and make it seem like a bad situation is much worse than it is. BBC Newsround has child friendly news coverage - https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/51204456
Short narratives to help explain social situations that children may have difficulty understanding.
What is coronavirus? - https://axelscheffler.com/books-for-older-children/coronavirus
Helping children who know someone who has coronavirus - https://www.elsa-support.co.uk/someone-i-know-has-coronavirus-story/
Explaining social distancing - https://www.elsa-support.co.uk/social-contact-story/
Explaining the return to school - https://www.elsa-support.co.uk/back-to-school-after-coronavirus-story/
When we can't hug the people we love - https://www.childhood.org.au/app/uploads/2020/04/hug_HR.pdf
Supporting your child emotionally
Be available to listen and be ready to answer your child's questions and concerns - they may have lots! The NSPCC website has lots of useful tips: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/coronavirus-advice-suppport-children-families-parents/
Have a memory box - this may help to 'contain' the whole coronavirus experience. Use it for art work, news stories, flowers, pictures of friends and family and other keepsakes and memories of this unusual time to rummage through then you are feeling sad or in low mood.
- Keep it as part of a time capsule
- See our Family Support Pages at https://www.thepinesschool.org.uk/parenting-courses/ for Facebook Groups and online resources
Keeping mentally and physically healthy
When we have structure and routines and lots of things to do, it means less brain space to worry and develop anxious thoughts and feelings. Having things to do, taking part and having responsibilities around the house for example, helps us feel in control - this is the same for our children.
- Healthyminds.org.uk relaxation sessions for children and families
- Make sure you put in place a routine as quickly as possible
- Provide a focus where they can set and achieve goals -
- Age appropriate tasks also help a child feel a sense of belonging and ownership. Ideas can be found online