We and our children are having to come to terms with not being at school or seeing their friends, being separated from vulnerable family members, and for some not completing qualifications they’ve been working hard on all year.
As parents, we can do so much to help our children develop good mental health practices. Here’s a few tips to get you started:
- We must look after ourselves. Children are like sponges – they often pick up on emotions and conversations around them without us really noticing. They look to their parents or carers to see how they should feel. If we’re taking care of our own mental health, we are signalling to them that they need not be worried or anxious.
- Make sure they have space to voice any worries or concerns they have. Often these are unfounded. Talk through the facts with them in an age-appropriate way. Talk about why we’re doing things a bit differently at the moment, so that they understand why they’re not going to Scouts or seeing their school friends.
- For younger children, why not start this week drawing pictures of different emotional faces? Talk about how our bodies feel when we experience these emotions and different words we might use to describe the emotions. Giving them language for their feelings can help start a positive conversation.
- Think creatively about your child’s social interaction. Make a plan with their friends’ parents for regular video calls, email communication or letters. Provide plenty of safe outdoor time in parks, woods and countryside trails. Set them challenges to stretch and occupy their growing minds.
- Children thrive on routine, so establish your own for them. It doesn’t have to be very rigid, but knowing how the day will start and end and what the set features of the day are will really help. Make sure to include plenty of simple reward moments so that they know when they are doing a good job.
- Make the dinner table a coronavirus-free time. Don’t allow it, or its impacts, to dominate the dinner conversation. If you’re in self-isolation and running out of conversation, get everyone to set a few questions like “if you were going to build a house on the moon, what would it look like?”. Put them a pot and draw one every meal time.
- Make sure that you and they understand this is not forever. Although we don’t know when things will return to normal, we know that they will. Help the whole family to find creative ways of enjoying the novelty of these strange times – while knowing that things will return to normal.
At Relate Northamptonshire, we are experienced in counselling children through difficult times. If you need help with your child, please get in touch. We aren’t meeting clients in person at the moment, but are holding telephone and webcam appointments. We’re here to help you support your child. Call us on 01604 634400.