With the UK currently in its third national lockdown, there's no better time to consider the potential impact on your child's mental wellbeing.
Some children have enjoyed being off school during the lockdown. Others, however, have really struggled, especially not being able to socialise with their friends. They may also be experiencing problems with family or changes to their living situation. There are many ways in which the coronavirus outbreak and its implications on our daily lives can cause feelings of anxiousness, depression and uncertainty.
Feelings like these will fade away for most of us over time, but there are always steps that we, as parents or guardians, can put in place to support children to help them cope with the issues they face. Below are four key ways to protect your child's mental health during this period of lockdown.
1. Listen to what your children are saying
When a child feels and alone, it is extremely important that you listen to what they are saying - try to empathise with them. Regularly asking them how they are and showing an interest in their lives not only helps them value themselves but also enables you to identify problems and support them. Giving your child with a verbal or visual cue encourages them to be more communicative and open about their true emotions.
2. Encourage your child to keep in regular contact with their friends
With your children currently experiencing very limited physical contact with their friends both inside and outside of the classroom, it is crucial that you encourage them to stay connected. Whether this is online or offline, giving your child the opportunity to communicate ensures they still feel connected with their friends which will, in turn, have a positive impact on their mental health. Try to think creatively of ways of keeping these connections strong.
3. Stick to a routine
Sticking to a routine can be a huge challenge...even at the best of times! During a lockdown, however, it's even harder. The power of reintroducing structure into your child's life promotes a sense of safety and security within the home environment. Introducing exercise, regular sleep and a healthy diet can all aid the ongoing mental stability of your child. If our children are able to adapt to a routine now, they will be far better equipped to cope when schools re-open. Remember, you don’t have to over-complicate matters or feel hung-up if your daily schedule doesn't go as planned. These are unprecedented times and every day we are discovering new ways to improve our children’s welfare.
4. Don’t forget to look after yourself
As parents and guardians, we instinctively prioritise our children's mental welfare over our own. It is, however, crucial that during a lockdown you also take care of yourself. Taking care of our own emotions and wellbeing will equip us with the strength to care and support our children. It is natural to feel worried, scared or even helpless during this pandemic and this is nothing to be ashamed of. None of us has been through anything like this before. We are all experiencing the same insecurities and learning to cope as we go along. Give yourself a few minutes each day to engage in a feel-good activity and to express your feelings to someone you trust. Your mood will be lifted and the positivity will radiate around you.
Here at Stagecoach, we strongly believe that through participating in the performing arts, your child's mental health will vastly improve. The benefits can be amazing! For a more in-depth understanding of these benefits, click here.
There are a plethora of online resources to help both children and adults get through these different times. Below is a small selection which we have found particularly helpful.
Chill Panda is the free NHS App for children and adults who want to learn how to manage stress and worry. The app allows children and adults to start to understand how their bodies respond to different feelings and includes some play-based activities demonstrated by a panda avatar.
These online wellbeing activities take around 10 minutes to complete and can be downloaded or done with pen and paper. They aim to cover the following themes: Feelings, staying connected, dealing with change, getting along, dealing with worries and relaxing.
Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame is a free interactive app for younger children and their parents that aims to help children build resilience through practising problem-solving skills. The app teaches a three-step method: “Take a deep breath, think about what to do next, and give the solution a try.”
If you would like your child to join Stagecoach, find your local school and book a Two-Week Trial today.