Five Ways To Support Your Child Mentally in Lockdown
All credit to Essential Living
With schools unlikely to reopen until end of February, many parents are wondering how to keep their kids happy during the current lockdown.
While parents juggle work and schooling responsibilities, some have relaxed restrictions on devices to keep restless children entertained. But with this comes a concern on their physical and mental health, as many parents worry about their children’s wellbeing or education.
With this in mind, mental health counsellor, Kerry Quigley gives some insights on five ways you can improve your child’s mental stability during the lockdown.
1. Promote positivity
Lockdown has turned our lives upside down and children and young people can often ruminate on the worst-case scenarios and ‘what ifs’ when worrying about a situation. As a parent, it can be easy to reciprocate this negativity, when in fact all this will do is make matters worse.
Even if you are having a bad day yourself, as a parent you need to help your child shift this way of thinking by showing optimism and intentionally focusing on the positives in any given situation.
Try creating things to look forward to, whether it be a special dinner, a family games night, or purchasing a new film to watch, this will encourage your child to look forwards instead of remaining in a negative mindset.
Kerry Quigley says: “Teach your child to look for the silver lining in every cloud. Encouraging your child to also think about the things they are grateful for can improve on their optimism and sense of well-being.”
2. Maintain a sleep routine
With wild dreams, 3 am wake-ups and weary nights, the coronavirus pandemic seems to be playing havoc with our sleep. But it’s not just adults who have joined the #wideawakeclub, as lockdown is also having an impact on the snooze habits of children.
With no school to get up for, it can become easy to slip out of any sort of routine you may have had as bedtime is becoming later. However, as we all know, quality of sleep can have a huge impact on our daily mood and wellbeing. Recent studies have found that poor or inadequate sleep results in mood swings, behavioural problems and cognitive problems which can impact their ability to learn.
Kerry Quigley says: “Creating a set pattern each night to help your child to sleep more easily will help to support their overall wellbeing. A routine that includes activities, such as a warm bath, listening to music, reading a bedtime story or deep breathing techniques can help your child to wind down at the end of the day.”
3. Make time for physical activities
The lack of after-school activities is an obvious downside of social isolation, and whilst you are normally focusing on working, cooking, cleaning and homeschooling during the day, finding time to fit in exercise can be tough.
Evidence has proven excessive sitting is linked with various health risks, low self-esteem and decreased academic achievement in school-aged children and youth, and whilst children are encouraged to sit in front of laptops and television for remote learning, it is having a significant impact on their overall mood.
Kerry Quigley says: “Engaging in activities like home workouts, painting, baking, or a trip to the local park is educational and can help release endorphins. These hormones are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals that can help to relieve stress, improve concentration, and enable positivity.”
Children are more likely to exercise if their parents take part, therefore why not try online PE lessons. Workouts have been designed for the entire family regardless of age or ability, teaching movements and actions of activities children love to get up to, such as gaming, sports, cooking, superheroes, dance, TV etc
4. Put yourself in their shoes
Reports have found the lockdown has caused children to become a lot more clingy and attention-seeking as they are more dependent on their parents. Whilst the struggle of homeschooling can cause frustration and tantrums, this can have significant negative effects on both yourself and your child.
Understanding what lockdown life is like from the perspective of a younger child can be difficult; you must try and see things from a different light. If they are upset, take time to sit and analyse what the cause may be and listen to what they have to say before you respond. The outcome of this can have a massive impact on their overall mental health and wellbeing.
Kerry Quigley says, “Empathizing with your child’s feelings and their point of view can often help to resolve disagreements more quickly. When you empathize and validate your child’s thoughts and emotions this can help to reduce their defensive reactions, enabling your child to be more open to understanding your point of view.”
5. Encourage mindfulness and be cautious
This time in our lives will go down in the history books, and whilst children are in the early stages of development, exposure to social media sites and news broadcasting can be distressing and they may not be emotionally prepared.
By incorporating some simple activities such as mindful eating, walking meditations, and guided sessions into your family’s lifestyle, this can help your child to relax and cope better with daily stressors.
Kerry Quigley says: “Children and young people of all developmental stages can benefit from mindfulness. The simple practice of paying attention to the present moment can help to minimize negative feelings and promote happiness.”
And, whilst digital platforms provide an opportunity for children to keep learning, entertain and keep in touch with their friends, increased access online brings heightened risks for children’s safety, protection and privacy. Therefore, it is essential to ensure your children know what to be aware of.
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