How to Support your Children in Lockdown
For a lot of people, the third national lockdown has really taken its toll on our mental health. Nobody could have expected a global pandemic to hit the UK in the way that it has, so it’s important to go easy on yourself if you’re feeling down. And this has never been truer for children too.
As the first week of February is Children’s Mental Health Week, we wanted to share some tips on how you can support your children through the hardest parts of the pandemic.
With school closures and children having far less opportunity to socialise, we can’t expect them to continue as normal. But we know how hard it can be to look out for your child’s mental health and wellbeing when they’re constantly growing and changing.
It might be even harder if your child has Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), and helping them to manage their mental health might be an even bigger challenge for you.
Here’s some tips on how you can help your child with their mental health in the coronavirus pandemic:
Tip 1 - Ask Them How They Are Feeling
This sounds so simple but it really is important to check in. Especially if your child is less expressive with their emotions.
If you’re working and your children have online school lessons, we know how hard it can be to make time for quality conversations. Encouraging them to be honest with you will help show your children that you understand how they feel and validate their emotions.
As a parent, you might feel that you need to resolve every issue that your child has, but sometimes just having someone to listen to them will really make a difference.
Tip 2 - Be Honest About How You Feel
It’s normal to want to hide your negative feelings away from your children, but it’s not always realistic. Especially now.
If you’re struggling with your own mental health because of the pandemic, you should be honest with your children and let them know it’s okay to feel that way. This doesn’t mean having to tell them everything, but just showing them that you’re not perfect and that is normal, could show them that it’s okay to feel how they do and that they can be more open with you too.
If you have coping mechanisms for your down days, you could even try sharing these with your children too.
Tip 3 - Let Them Express Themselves in Other Ways
Children don’t always want to talk, and some struggle to express themselves in this way. This might just be their personality, or because they have a disability or learning difficulties that make communication hard for them.
You could ask them to draw how they are feeling, or you could play a sport or exercise as a way of letting out some kept in emotion.
You know your children better than anyone, so encourage them to do an activity that you know they enjoy.
Tip 4 - Stick to Some Kind of Routine
Before the pandemic, your children were probably going to school and had a set day-to-day routine. It’s comforting and reassuring to know how each day will play out, and will help your child feel secure in such uncertain times.
While they’re not in school at the moment, you can still try and have a set routine.
For example, it might be a good idea to go for a walk when your child finishes their online school lessons for the day. This means you’ll both get out of the house and they’ll feel as if they’re stepping out of school and then back into their home when you come back.
Also having set lunch and dinner times will help you both to plan your day.
Tip 5 - Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
If you are your child’s main caregiver, you might feel under a lot of pressure to be there all the time now they’re not in school.
If your child has another parent who is able to help, ask them to have some one on one time with your child so you can spend some time alone or call a friend or family member.
If they are really struggling with a mental health issue such as anxiety or depression, you should speak to your child’s school and GP. If your child’s mental health is significantly affecting their education, you could consider if they need additional help through an Education, Health and Needs Assessment (EHCNA) from the Local Authority.
The Local Authority might put an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in place, which should set out your child’s needs and what provision can be put in place to meet these needs.
If your child has Special Educational Needs and you think they aren’t getting the right support, you should get legal advice from one of our Education Lawyers. We have been working throughout the pandemic, and we can help you in these difficult times.
For legal advice call our Education Solicitors
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