“The coronavirus pandemic has shone a light on the importance of looking after our mental health. It is very normal during these uncertain and unusual times to be experiencing distress or anxiety, or be feeling low. What’s important is that you get help.” Minister for Mental Health Nadine Dories.
Here at New Oscott we endeavour to ensure our children are happy and safe. The coronavirus outbreak has had an impact on everybody’s lives, so it is understandable that children and young people may be experiencing anxiety, distress or low mood which is a normal response to a significant disruption to their lives. There may have been a change in behaviour and attitude in your child so we have put together some resources to support families during these difficult times.
The 5 ways to Well-Being
The Five ways to wellbeing are simple things that we can all do to improve our emotional health and wellbeing:
Connect: Spend time with family and friends. Enjoy doing things together and talking to each other.
Be active: It keeps you physically healthy, and makes you feel good
Keep learning: Try something new. Try a new hobby, or learn about something just because it interests you.
Give: Do something for a friend or relation/adult, as well as making them feel good, it can make you feel good too!
Take notice: Take a break to see how you feel. Relax and look around you or listen to music, take a few deep breaths.
Children’s mental health: what is it?
Mental health is the way children think or feel about themselves and the world around them. It’s related to how children cope with life’s challenges and stresses.
What good mental health in children looks like:
- Children with good mental health feel happy and positive about themselves
- enjoy life
- learn well
- have healthy relationships with family and friends
- can manage sad, worrying or angry feelings
- can bounce back from tough times.
Activities to support Mental Health
Mindfulness colouring - Best Colouring Pages for Kids
Yoga for kids - YouTube
- Try a quiz
- Watch a film
- Play a sport
- Have a warm bath
- Go for a nature walk
- Learn some new facts about a topic that interests you
- Read a book
- Do some colouring or drawing
- Experiment with clay/playdough or slime
- Make a junk model
- Learn a new skill
- Phone a friend or write a letter
You will find lots of ideas and suggestions for parents and children on:
A place a child or young person can talk to someone about something they are worried about. They can do this online or over the phone. 08001111
Young Minds Parentline
Offers information and advice to anyone worried about a child or young person under the age of 25. - 0808 802 5544
A confidential helpline which offers support and advice to those in emotional distress. - 116 123
Helpline for young people who suffer from panic attacks, OCD, phobias, and other related anxiety disorders (0330 606 1174).
Useful Apps to support young people
Healthy Minds Problem-solving tool aimed at students.
Mindshift Specifically for young people to help them manage their anxiety. There are lots of tools, techniques and advice.
Moodometer An app as well as an online resource which helps children and young people monitor and understand their emotional wellbeing.
Preparing your Child to Return to School
Here are some ideas to use that will help your children feel ready to go back to school:
Talk - your child might have worries about returning to school. In the run-up to returning, make time for little conversations about how they're feeling about going back to school. Be careful how you do this - the aim is to see if they do have worries or concerns, not to plant new ones!
If your child does have worries, acknowledge their concerns first before offering reassurance.
- I bet other children will feel worried about having a new teacher, too. That's why your teacher will spend lots of time explaining how everything will work.
And a good way of turning a negative into a positive is using the phrase, "At least..."
- I know we can't spend time together today, but at least we can have some time straight after school
- I know you're in a different class from your best friend, but at least the teachers are going to make sure everyone makes new friends
Sleep routine In most families, routines around a child’s sleep have become more... flexible!
Bedtimes have often become later in the evening... and children are getting up later in the morning as a result.
To move immediately from these routines to 'normal running' and getting into school for 9am could be jarring.
So start moving your child's bedtime back towards normality now. Do this gradually, before they get back to school.
Because if we leave it to the last minute, it's likely our children won't have time to adjust, and won't be able to get to sleep at the earlier time.
And then your child won't only have to cope with going back to school on the first day back - they'll be managing exhaustion too.
Explain that there will be new rules and routines
It's important our children don't go into school expecting everything to look like normal - only to get a huge shock when they walk through the door. Explain things will look different - but tell your child not to worry, because the teachers have been thinking about how to make the school safe and will help you get used to the new layouts and routines. It can also be reassuring to talk about the things that haven't changed.
It's natural for all parents to have some level of anxiety about returning their child to school. But however you feel on the inside, it's important to convey calm to your child. Children pick up on lots of little clues about how their parents are feeling - and they use this information to inform how they should be feeling. If we look worried, they pick up on this and start worrying too! So, if you do have concerns, it time to be an actor. However you feel on the inside, aim to convey calm on the outside.
To do this, we need to think about:
- What we say (and what they overhear)
- Our tone of voice
- Our body languag
Be Kind to Yourself
Everyone has been through an emotional roller-coaster over the last few months - that includes you and your child. And if you've felt overwhelmed or worried about sending your child back to school, that's okay. It's entirely normal. So be kind to yourself. Make sure you:
Build in time for activities you find de-stressing
Get some exercise (even if that's just walking)
Take some time alone, if you need it
All of these activities will help make sure you're in an emotionally strong place - so you can support your child with their emotions too.
Developing Independence for our Younger Learners
We want our young learners to be excited to return to school in September and fully prepared for their next stage of learning. It is important that children are given plenty of opportunities to rehearse age-appropriate independence. This includes:
- getting dressed, including shoes. We ask that you send children to school in shoes with Velcro straps.
- putting a coat on a managing the zip
- toileting, including managing wiping themselves
- name recognition
- using a tissue for their nose
- using a knife and fork
- drinking from a cup
- being able to tidy up and put items back where they belong
Children and young people need to be given the opportunity to grieve as any adult would. Trying to ignore or avert the child’s grief is not protective and can be damaging. Children and young people regardless of their age need to be encouraged to talk about how they are feeling and supported to understand their emotions.
The following websites contain advice, videos and stories to help support a child through a bereavement.
Books to Support Grief
- Benny’s Hat by Juliet Clare Bell, 2017 ISBN 978-1999729608
- Goodbye Mousie By Robie H. Harris & illustrated by Jan Ormerod, 2004 ISBN 978-0689871344
- I Miss You: A First Look at Death By Pat Thomas & illustrated by Lesley Harker 2001 ISBN 978-0764117640
- Is Daddy Coming Back in a Minute? Explaining sudden death in words very young children can understand By Elke and Alex Barber, 2016 ISBN 978-1785921063
- The I Love You Book By Todd Parr ISBN 978-0316247566
Bereavement charities that offer helplines and support
Child Bereavement UK – call 0800 028 8840 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Cruse Bereavement Care – call 0808 808 1677 Monday and Friday, 9.30am to 5pm, and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 9.30am to 8pm, or email email@example.com
Grief Encounter – call 0808 802 0111 Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope Again – call 0808 808 1677 Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5pm, or email email@example.com
Winston's Wish – call 0808 802 0021 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Behaviour Support and Tips
The current COVID19 crisis is creating unprecedented challenges at every level of society. We are aware with restrictions on movement for both adults and children mean that many families face enormous challenges as they try and navigate new ways of living together. We want our children to feel safe and be happy however balancing that with working from home can be tricky. Here are some suggestions in helping maintain a calm environment:
- If the child is overwhelmed by school work expectations, take the pressure off.
- Allow the child to be part of deciding their plan for the morning/afternoon/day - allow opportunity to have down time which could be colouring, film time, arts and crafts etc.
- Get outdoors as much as possible.
- Stick to bedtime routines.
- Make time to talk.
Being a parent can be wonderful and rewarding. But it can also be exhausting and challenging, especially when your child's poor behaviour is getting on top of you. Here is some advice and support from the NSPCC website:
Remember to stop, breathe, react calmly.
In this video, other parents talk about what they do to keep calm and Take 5: NSPCC.org.uk
For the further advice on supporting behaviour at home please see the following websites:
Parenting Advice during the coronavirus outbreak