Now more than ever, we are focused on our children; how they are feeling about themselves and how they see the world around them.
Whilst we have all tried to shield them from the impact of a changing world, children have seen themselves be distanced from friends and family in a time where arguably they need human interaction more than ever. Whilst older children can be spoken to about Coronavirus and how to keep safe, younger children may well have seen significant adults and children become absent without any real understanding of the situation.
Our children are expert witnesses and pick up on the behaviours of those around them; whilst we have all tried to keep a sense of normality for them, masks, hand sanitisers, lack of visitors and days out will certainly have changed their day to day experiences.
In our nurseries, we have tried so hard for children to see and experience what they would have done in life before Coronavirus and they have adapted tremendously to the changes that we have made in order to keep them, their families and our teams safe.
Signs that your child may be struggling with lockdown
A change in eating or sleeping patterns, possibly lacking confidence and appearing to disconnect or withdraw could be a sign that they are finding lockdown difficult. They may be restless and may have more behavioural outbursts, become angry or emotional. Children may also struggle to keep focused and lose attention quickly.
Another sign that your child might be struggling with lockdown is through more physical signs. Anxiety sometimes presents physically in the form of tunny aches and headaches. Children often do not understand why they are feeling the way they do, which makes it harder for them to deal with the changing behaviour.
What can we do to support the physical and mental health of our little people?
There’re a few things that you can do to support the mental health of your child. You can keep them close when they most need it; offering them cuddles and hugs and listening to their concerns. Being with them when you can may be a real comfort.
You can also talk to them and explain that what they are feeling is ok and it’s ok to express themselves. Reassurance is so important and communication is vital. You can read books together and offer them time to share their feelings.
Although tough when juggling home working, schooling and your own feelings, try to keep a routine of some kind so that young children know what to expect. It could be a walk in the middle of the day or a warm milk whilst reading a story at night; routines do not need to be rigid as this could increase the pressure for both you and your child. It is also good to hand over control of some of the plans to your child and ask them what they would like to do.
Another way to support your child is by trying to do something fun together every day. Children see opportunities for fun everywhere, so this time together does not need to be meticulously planned. Be spontaneous!
Many of these reminders and tips are transferable to us as adults. Be kind to yourselves and start each day afresh.
What can we say to support children?
There’s some particular language that might be helpful to help support your child. You could try using phrases such as:
- I know this is hard. I am right here with you and I hear you.
- I know this is scary. I am listening and I will help you.
- It is ok to feel scared, sad, angry and cross.
- I understand you would like some space to think.
- If you need me, I am here for you, whenever you feel ready.
What can your child do?
There’s also some specific activities that you might want to try. These are all activities that we try to do as often as possible at nursery and will work just as well at home!
- Breathing activities to help stay calm. Breath in, hold for a second and breathe out, long and slow. Repeat. Visualise breathing into a balloon, blowing ripples across a puddle or blowing a golden thread to help elongate the breath and encourage a sense of calm.
- Children’s yoga: Cosmic kids yoga is a free resource available via YouTube.
- Be mindful: Cosmic kids zen den is great for children.
- Listen to music. Calming sounds can be found on CBeebies radio.
- Give themselves a big cuddle!
- Move spaces! Simply go to a different space within the home.
- Distract the mind with colouring books. Colour by numbers are good for an older child.
- Do some exercise. You could ride a bike, go for a walk, kick a ball or complete an online children’s class.
- Play, play and play some more!
- Get some fresh air. Look for clouds in the sky, look for nature and animal habitats.
In the midst of everything else, do remember to make time for yourself; try to eat well, exercise where you can and get sleep and rest. Although this can be easier said than done, it is hugely important for both you and your child.
And just remember, you are doing a wonderful job! We see happy, energetic and enthusiastic children arrive at nursery each day; but hopefully some of the tips above will make the next few weeks of lockdown just a little bit easier.
Claire Sephton, COO