How to help your child’s mental health at this time:
Every child will know that they are not going to school and they will all probably know why. It is quite likely that your child is worried or scared by what they have heard or seen, either in the television or from listening to adult conversation in the home. It is important that if your child does feel this way, their fears and worries are acknowledged. As parents we often inadvertently tell children that their worries are trivial, by telling them there is nothing to worry about/not to be scared. If an adult can say “yes, I understand how that would be scary/worrying…” it validates the child’s feelings. The adult can then extend the conversation and providere assurance by listing the things that the family/household is doing to keep safe. A guide to coronavirus for children is here
And a great book for helping a child to deal with worries is ‘The huge bag of worries’ by Victoria Ironside.
It may be helpful for your child (and you) to start a gratitude journal. Whether this is a physical thing, or even just a mental exercise, with practice it does become easier to see the positives in every day. I’d suggest starting off looking for three things, however small, just before bedtime.
1. I saw two birds sitting on the fence in my garden and it made me happy
2. I had my favourite sandwich for lunch, and it was delicious
3. My family are all safe at home with me today
Keeping a gratitude journal will also help your child with turning tricky ‘red’ thoughts into helpful ‘green’ thoughts.
Turning red thoughts into green thoughts:
All children within school will have accessed part of our route to resilience, whether they are aware of it or not, as it is part of our whole school approach. It’s probable that some children are struggling with missing their families, friends or activities they used to attend. A helpful way for them to deal with this is to turn their ‘red’ thoughts (self-limiting thoughts) into ‘green’ thoughts (self-help thoughts). It does take practice but gets easier the more you do it!
-Red-I really miss Grandma. I can’t see her for ages.
Green-But I can write her a letter and draw her a picture. Maybe I can phone or videochat with her. I can make a list of all the fun things we can do together when we see each other again.
- Red-I can’t go to the park to play anymore.
Green-But I can go for a walk/bike ride with my parent. I can look for rainbows in windows. I can create an obstacle course in my garden/house for my parent to do.
Some really helpful websites/pages I have found to help with child mental health and wellbeing are below:
If you have any worries about your child’s emotional wellbeing, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to help.