6 tips on how to help our children under lockdown

One of the areas that some people are concerned about is how to talk to children about the pandemic and how to alleviate any anxious feelings they may be having. One thing is for sure…that the pandemic will be remembered for a long time by all of us and children will have a lasting memory of it.

It is a bit like major events like 9/11 in New York or the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami in Indonesia, or Princess Diana dying in Paris. The Coronavirus pandemic is at a global scale affecting us all.

Here are some thoughts on how to help children during lockdown.

1. Instil in the children a sense of safety and reassurance but of course not false promises. Children look to us to see how we react and handle anxious situations and it is important that we let them know that we are resilient and that we will get through this. A great way to do this is by referring to past events that were serious but we have now overcome them and came out the other side stronger.

2. Create a new norm and routine at home that works for you and your specific family. A lot of things have been taken away from children – such as their routine at school, seeing their friends regularly, seeing their extended families, regular activities at the weekend, etc. So, they may feel alone and confused about how drastically their world has changed. This can cause anxiety. A great way is to create a rough plan for the day (that works for everyone) and have some structure with time for exercise, school work (more on homeschooling later), time together as a family, and some time doing things alone. Don’t worry if you can’t fit everything in one day, there is always tomorrow and you can spread activities over a week.

3. Validate their feelings and name those feelings as much as you can. Try to be specific giving children the opportunity to reflect on how they feel. For example, try to understand what they mean when they say “sad”, could it be bored or lonely? A great way to do this is for you to reflect on your own feelings and use similar language around the children. @mellowdoodles has a great illustration of feelings that can help.

4. Helping others and engage in the community. Even though, we have to social distance and we are in lockdown, there are ways children can feel involved in helping others and it gives them a sense of purpose and connection. How about asking (by keeping distances) your elderly neighbours if they need help? Sending postcards to a care home? How about video calling their grandparents to keep them company and cheer them up? Painting rainbows for the windows to bring a smile to the NHS and other key workers?

5. Encourage gratitude. Discuss with your children what you are all thankful for. Really try to find some positives in your everyday life and hold onto to those. What are the positive things that children will remember and take away from the time during lockdown?

6. Finally, home-schooling – it's important to remember that home-schooling is normally done by choice and schooling our children during a pandemic is not a choice which means that we can’t have the same expectations. In essence, try to strike a balance between doing some school work that enables your child to maintain their learning, keeps them engaged and productive and maintaining a healthy relationship with them without stress. Children cannot learn under stress (and parents can't teach under stress either), so don’t feel guilty if you have to give up the schooling efforts on certain days that your children are resistant to it. Involve them in making a rough plan of what they need to be doing and make it part of your routine.

Any questions or if you would like to get in touch, please visit my website www.christinatherapy.co.uk

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