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Taking Care Of Children’s Mental Health During Lockdown

As we all make our way through this third lockdown, many of us are finding it harder than the previous two. It’s important to remember that if we adults are finding it harder, our children are probably finding it harder too. You may have noticed that your child is less engaged with their home learning this time around, or that they are crying more often.

Many experts have said that the biggest risk of having children home from school for such extended periods of time is not their academic progress but rather their mental health. Going to school is about much more than just learning; the social aspect and pastoral care play a large part and both will be missing from children’s lives right now. Children need to socialise with other children - but they also often benefit from having other adults they can talk to about any problems and both of these, as well as many other aspects of school life, are missing right now.

Here are some tips for taking care of your child’s mental health during lockdown:

Try to keep to a routine

Many schools are providing home learning that has a certain structure to it, with live lessons or video streaming at set times of the day. Others are not though, and it can be tempting to get started a little later in the day, or to finish early. That can be fun every now and then, but - boring though it is - children do better with a routine. This helps them to know what to expect, to feel safe with the relative predictability - especially when much of the outside world is unpredictable and frightening at the moment. Plus, if you’ve stuck to more or less the same daily routine during lockdown, when the schools do reopen, it will be easier to fall back into that school day routine.

Listen to what they have to say

This doesn’t mean that we must be there only when our child wants to talk about something big and important - it’s just as crucial that we are there when they want to tell us about something they’ve learned or something funny someone has said on a Zoom call. If we are there to listen openly to the small, seemingly insignificant things, our children will be more likely to come to us with the bigger things as and when they arise

Try not to react to their mood swings

We are all struggling right now - adults included. It is a very stressful time, and whether you’re struggling with working from home or the boredom that comes from several months being furloughed, it is highly likely that you are stressed. That makes it so much harder to remain calm when children refuse to do their school work or whine and complain about something you know they were doing perfectly happily a few weeks ago. It can be tempting to read the riot act, to threaten punishments or to shout back - but now more than ever, our children need us to remain calm, to allow their emotions and to still be there with a hug when they are ready.

Keep up with non-school related activities regularly

All of this stress and change is exhausting, and it can be so tempting to just do what we have to do to get children through their school day, and then let them loose to do whatever they want. We all have days like that, and that’s fine - but it is important to keep up with regular exercise, getting fresh air and doing other activities you have enjoyed as a family in the past. Obviously many of these will be unavailable because of the current restrictions, but remember the old saying: all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! We need more than just school or work, TV and sleep in our lives! Perhaps now would be a good time to take up a different activity that you can enjoy as a family during lockdown. This helps your child to stay connected to the family, and can help them to stay active which is an important component in mental health.


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