Children’s mental health during coronavirus
The current unprecedented coronavirus situation has resulted in the majority of society working from home and the closure of schools means that many children are at home. It is therefore important to consider the mental health of our children during this, particularly challenging time.
If you have not already done so it is important for you to sit down with your child and explain why schools are closed and that although you do not have all the answers hopefully they will return to school before the end of the academic year. It is important for children to have hope that they will return to school before the end of the academic year as hope will be a major motivator in ensuring that your child completes work and has a sense of purpose. In having a conversation with your child, it is also advisable to discuss why it may be some time before they are able to see some family members (such as grandparents) and their friends, in order for them to not feel like they have suddenly lost these people from their lives.
Create an environment where your child/children feel comfortable to tell you about their concerns relating to coronavirus and do not just dismiss their feelings. Sharing facts about the virus may help settle some of their concerns and reduce anxiety. Make sure the facts you get are from reputable sites. Be truthful about the situation and what you know in regards to coronavirus.
Routine allows us to feel as though we have a purpose and meaning in life. It is therefore worthwhile attempting to uphold some form of routine for your child. This may be difficult in the first few days of lockdown or isolation and it is important to allow some flexibility for both you and your child, but small routines can make a big difference. For example, sitting down each day and having a meal together and discussing three things you are all grateful for could be the beginning of a routine for you and your family. Setting aside time for school work and family time will help your child feel like there is some routine and purpose to their day.
Be mindful of news
If you have the news on, your child may be listening to and absorbing everything that is being said and this could be difficult for them to interpret and may cause them to panic. Minimise or monitor their time on social media where they may be exposed to dramatic and often factually incorrect articles and videos. It is, however, important to let kids communicate with friends and family online as this will allow them to maintain important relationships.
There are a number of sportspeople and celebrities who are releasing free video workouts for children, this is an opportunity for you and your child to share something together and add to their daily routine, thus ensuring further purpose. Give children responsibilities within the house to increase their feelings of purpose.
It is important for you to shift your expectations and to create as much as possible, an understanding and nurturing environment. Although this is a stressful time, and it is completely understandable that you may be anxious during this time, it is essential to remember that your children will react to you and how you are handling the situation.
Looking after your own mental health during this time is therefore imperative. I will be writing more articles for both children and adults on mental health during this time. Children no longer having their normal daily routine of attending school and spending time with friends and teachers may result in anxiety and/or depression. Discuss your children’s feelings with them and how anxiety is a completely normal feeling to be having during this time. If you are concerned about your child’s mental health during this period it is important to contact mental health professionals as many counsellors are still offering telephone and online services.
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