Supporting your child's well being

 

During this difficult time I wanted to reach out to let you know that, even though our school is currently closed to all but a few children, we’re still here to support your child and your family in whatever way we can.

You might be noticing signs of increasing anxiety in your child as they’re spending more time indoors and outside of their normal routines. These might include:

Pupils ages 3-6 years:

  • Regressing to behaviour they’ve outgrown, such as thumb-sucking or bed-wetting

  • Showing greater fear at being separated from you

  • Tantrums

  • Trouble sleeping

Pupils ages 7-10 years:

  • Expressing sadness, anger or fear

  • Sharing false information that they’re hearing from their peers or seeing online

  • Wanting to talk about coronavirus all the time

  • Not wanting to talk about the current situation at all

  • Having trouble concentrating

Pre-teenage pupils:

  • Acting out – this might include things like picking fights with you or with siblings or abusing alcohol or drugs

  • Becoming afraid to leave the house

  • Distancing themselves from their friends and family

  • Exhibiting intense emotions but being unable to talk about what they’re feeling

We’ve put together some resources to help you support your child. We hope you find this information helpful.

If you have any concerns about how your child is coping or you need any other support from the school, please let us know by contacting your child’s teacher via Seesaw or contacting the school office.

We’re extremely grateful for all the support you’ve shown us as we’ve adapted to these new circumstances, and we want to reassure you that we are still here to support you too.

We can and will get through this together.

 

 

Take care of yourself

It’s really important right now to take care of your own physical and mental health. Children are very perceptive, and they react to what they sense from the adults around them.

Here are some things you can do to help keep yourself healthy:

  • Connect with others – maintain relationships with people you care about through phone and video calls

  • Exercise – take some time every day to move. You could go for a walk or run. You’ll also find lots of fitness videos online for everything from yoga to dance. Find something you enjoy and that makes you feel good

  • Eat healthy meals – try to keep a well-balanced diet and drink enough water

  • Get some sleep – being anxious or worried can have a big impact on your sleep. If you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep, try to develop a calming bedtime routine – for example, do 10 minutes of yoga or listen to calming music. There are also apps you can download that provide guided meditation to help you get to sleep more quickly

  • Turn off the news – it’s important to keep up to date, but the 24-hour news cycle can make you more anxious. Limit your exposure to the news to only a small amount of time, just enough to know what the latest government guidance is

  • Do things you enjoy – now that we’re all spending more time at home, we can finally take up that hobby we’ve always meant to learn. Try baking or gardening or learning to knit. These are also great activities we can share with our children

  • Set goals – it’s easy to lose track of the days in our current situation, so it can be helpful to set daily and weekly goals to give us a sense of control and purpose. Examples might be setting a goal of walking for half an hour at least 3 times this week or reading a new book

  • Connect with the outdoors – depending on where you live, it may not be possible to spend time outside. If you don’t have a garden or terrace, you can still open a window to let some fresh air and sunlight in. Put a comfortable chair by the window so you can look outside and get some air as you read a book

  • Talk to someone – during this difficult time, sharing with family and friends how you’re feeling and what you’re doing to cope can be helpful for both you and them. There are also helplines you can call for support – we’ve included a list at the end of this pack

How to talk to your child about what’s happening

No matter how calmly you manage the current environment, children are likely to be anxious, so it’s important to talk to them about what’s happening.

For younger children

Children pick up bits of information from their friends, from the news and from listening to adults talking around them – but they can misunderstand what they’re hearing.

  • Deal with the news head-on and talk about it openly and calmly, giving them the facts

    • Give them age-appropriate information – take a look at:

    • Teach them how to know if information they find on the internet is reliable. Explain how some stories on social media may be based on rumours or inaccurate information

    • Encourage them to take breaks from listening to or reading the news – overexposure isn't helpful

  • Encourage questions

    • This will give them the confidence to reach out, if they have anything to ask

    • Be reassuring but honest when answering questions – it's ok if you don't have all the answers

    • Be ready to answer the same question over and over – children tend to repeat themselves when they're feeling uncertain or worried, so you might have to answer the same questions more than once as they seek extra reassurance

  • Be a role model

    • Recognise and manage your own worries first

    • Be open about your own feelings and let them know it’s normal to be concerned – for example, let them know you’re also finding the news a bit worrying and what you’re doing to stay calm

  • Explain how our body's immune system protects us

    • It's constantly working against germs without us knowing. We can't and don't need to control this process

    • Explain that we're taking precautions against this particular germ because it's a new one which our bodies haven't come across before

    • Remind them how important it is that they eat healthy food, sleep and exercise, as this helps to fight germs

    • If it helps, reassure them that the effects of this virus on healthy young people are very mild

  • Keep doing your bit to help children reduce the spread of germs

    • Remind them to maintain good hygiene like bathing daily and wearing fresh clothes

    • Encourage them to sing 'happy birthday' twice when they're washing their hands

 

For older children

Older children will have the same anxieties about their own health and that of their family and friends as younger children. But they’re also likely to feel socially isolated, and worried about the result of school closures on their education and what life will be like after the pandemic is over.

In addition to the steps above:

  • Reassure them that when more guidance comes from the school about how grades will be awarded, you’ll share this with them as soon as you have it – you could also check that they understand the information you’ve received so far, in case there are any points of confusion or worry that the school could help to clarify

  • Encourage them to maintain social ties – relationships are especially important for older children, so give them room to keep in touch with their friends

  • Equip them with accurate information – for example:

  • Share tools to help them manage anxiety

 

If your child struggles with higher levels of anxiety 

Some children are naturally more anxious, such as those with existing phobias or obsessive-compulsive disorders. The current situation can make those anxieties worse.

  • Get them to do activities such as counting, ordering and sorting tasks which can help them calm down

  • Encourage them to use relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing

  • Look out for obsessive or compulsive behaviours and try to get ahead of them early by challenging unhelpful thoughts and assumptions

  • If you’re worried about your child’s anxiety, YoungMinds is a charity dedicated to children’s mental health. They’ve opened a parents’ helpline for confidential, expert advice. You can reach them at 0808 802 5544

 

Helplines and websites for children and young people

If your child would like to speak with someone confidentially, there are helplines and websites specifically for them.

Organisation

Contact information

Shout

Free, confidential support via text, available 24/7

Text SHOUT to 85258 in the UK to text with a trained crisis volunteer who’ll provide active listening and collaborative problem-solving

The Mix

Free confidential telephone helpline and online service that aims to find young people the best help, whatever the problem

·   Call 0808 808 4994 for free (11am to 11pm daily)

·   Access the online community

·   Email The Mix

ChildLine

Confidential telephone counselling service for any child with a problem

·   Call 0800 1111 any time for free

·   Have an online chat with a counsellor (9am to midnight daily)

·   Check out the message boards