The pandemic has been extremely tough for everyone, especially with this being the third lockdown. Children have experienced a drastic change to their daily routines through schools becoming remotely held. Missing out on almost a year of going to school, seeing their best friends at school and playing football with their friends after school has most definitely taken its toll on young people.
Here are some ways to help support your child’s mental health and prevent difficult emotions brought about by isolation:
- Know how to spot the signs.
When your child is struggling with mental health issues, look out for any unusual personality or behavioural changes or signs of withdrawal. These signs could include a change in sleeping or eating habits, a lack of confidence or feeling upset.
- Talk to the child
Following on to spotting the signs, it’s important to talk to them once you find these signs. Trying to communicate with them in any way possible can give them a sense of comfort and safety to express their feelings and explain what is wrong.
- Expressing feelings doesn’t have to be face-to-face
Sometimes children find it easier to write down their thoughts and feelings. One way to help a child that prefers to write their feelings is to create a ‘feelings box’ for the child to write down their current thoughts or feelings and place these notes in the box. This gives you the opportunity to have insight into what is going on for them and to then talk about it with them. Another activity is to have colour codes for every feeling. Place different colour cards out with the different feelings on them to assist your child in identifying how they are feeling.
- Creating a new structure/routine
Keeping a normal routine in this time is very hard for families as every day seems to be the same. Home schooling, alongside working and fitting in your own needs, creates conflict in making a daily routine. However, introducing a rota or timetable that includes fun activities can help to create a feeling of stability and alleviate anxiety for both you and your child!
- Keep children learning
Incorporating enjoyable and creative elements to your child’s learning will support their development. Furthermore, it will inspire them to want to learn more every day. Children respond well to fun activities and this will help to keep any low feelings at bay.
- Limit screen time and mix activities up
Learning now being held remotely, coupled with the social interaction that occurs online, means that a child’s screen time will have increased. Young people often compare themselves to others online and this can have an effect on their mental health and self-esteem. Mixing up activities and reminding your child that everyone is different and unique will help your child deal with the anxieties around social media.
- Help them manage stress
When a child’s worries become unmanageable it can result in the feeling of isolation, anxiety or even depression. A children’s organisation, Childline, has advised parents to listen to what is concerning their child and to ask them how they would like to tackle the problem. Children are unlikely to have coping strategies and ways to get out of feeling down, so adults need to be ready to support them and teach them how to do so.