Well Being Reassurance
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Many children benefit from keeping to a daily routine and enjoy following a timetable. Consistency and structure can be calming for some, but also restrictive for others, so find out which works best for your family. Help your child to take some control, give options, let them make choices, whilst explaining that there are activities which they need to do. Show children what other families are doing on Twitter. Get them to congratulate their friends on Twitter who are doing similar tasks. Rewards work wonders!
Keep children in the loop
Talk to children about what is going on but remember that they don’t need to know everything you know. There is no need to volunteer information which will cause further worry. For those children who do want to know more, there are some clear clips available on Newsround and also see www.nhs.uk which gives accurate information. You may also want to limit the time you spend watching, reading or listening to the news on Coronavirus. If using Newsround, watch it first to decide if it is appropriate for your child. Don’t be afraid to discuss it, keep it fact based and age appropriate. Be reassuring and focus on what you are doing at home to stay safe. Remind children how they are taking care of themselves through their handwashing. Let them know they can ask more questions when they have them and that this conversation can be left open.
Point out the positive, show children examples of how the local community are working together, take part in the clapping for the NHS etc, posters of support for keyworkers, clips of homes singing and dancing together around the world whilst socially distancing.
Bring in different activities to break up the day, such as a board game, family physical exercise or scavenger hunt. Decide on something which the child looks forward to and work towards that when the school essential tasks are done. Think about what were your favourite activities as a child, in "life before screen time"! However, don’t feel guilty when you need to resort to Disney + / Netflix / Gaming time; we are all doing it and many of you are also juggling your home working so need time for yourselves.
Look after yourself. Eat well including fruit and vegetables. Drink clear liquids and avoid caffeine. Exercise indoors and outdoors whilst appreciating the wonders of Spring nature all around you. Accept there will be times when you need to ask for help too. There are useful websites and mental health helplines (see www.nhs.uk) for more information and others listed on the school website.
Manage your own anxiety
Everyone is understandably anxious right now but how we manage our own anxiety has an impact on our children. Try not to read all the worst-case scenarios in the press and keep a sense of perspective. There will be times when you feel overwhelmed so take a break, take a bath, read a book or take some time by yourself in the garden.
Mindful activities (recommended by Jill Emanuele from the Child Mind Institute):
- Squeeze Muscles: Starting at your toes, pick one muscle and squeeze it tight. Count to five. Release, and notice how your body changes. Repeat exercise moving up your body.
- Tummy Breathing: Put one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Slowly breathe in from your stomach (expand like a balloon) and slowly breathe out (deflate).
- Mindful Meal: Pay attention to the smell, taste and look of your food. No multitasking.
- Meditation: Sit in a relaxed, comfortable position. Pick something to focus on, such as your breath. When your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breath.
- Blowing Bubbles: Notice their shapes, textures and colours.
- Colouring: Colour something. Focus on the colours and designs.
- Listening to Music: focus on the whole song or listen specifically to the voice or an instrument.
Use the Happy Mind app. Contact your child’s class teacher if you need help with this. More ideas on Childline Calm below.
Keep in touch
Keep your support network going, call, text, Facetime, Zoom etc. Contact old friends that you have only seen on Facebook recently and start new conversations. Reach out. Help your child to stay in contact with their friends through virtual meet ups. Read the grandparents a bedtime story.
Remember, sometimes the path of least resistance is the right path for you. What works today may not work tomorrow. Everyone is different and there isn’t a quick fix for what we are facing. Your child’s well-being is connected to your well- being. Look after yourself too. We are not perfect and need to forgive ourselves as well as each other. Show kindness and build hope. Find the balance that works for you, for your family, expect it will need to change and remember that the current goal is to stay safe. Everything else is a bonus.
With a virtual socially distanced hug from Mrs Anstice and Mrs Lamb.