How do we help our children keep well during lock down?
In the third in a series of blog posts, Dr Verity Jones, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Education and Childhood at UWE, and Online Project Lead looks at how we can support our young people’s well being and mental health during the Covid19 pandemic.
Two weeks in …
Yes, schools are closed and learning is now being provided remotely. But, this is just the tip of the iceberg for millions of young people trying to make sense of their new world. The parks are locked, access to green spaces is restricted, extra curricula clubs and lessons have halted bar a few online alternatives, adults are at home (many with concerns over job security and finance), dinners are without usual foods, access to friends has all but dried up, people wear masks and gloves when they leave the house, domestic violence is on the rise and every media channel is pasted with rising death tolls as the invisible menace of Covid19 comes ever closer.
When the world seems to be going crazy we need to make sure we don’t forget to check in with our children. Are they okay? If the answer is no, what can we do and where do we go for help?
Structure can be a powerful tool in combatting anxiety. The structure of the school day and week has been taken away from our children. Think about how you can reinstate some of this. Have regular work, play and meal times. Try setting timers to keep everyone on track. The Pomodora strategy can work well as it chunks time into 25 minute doable chunks.
Healthy, regular meals are essential to keep a healthy mind. Cooking together can be a great time to talk to children while making something delicious to share. It doesn’t have to involve lots of ingredients, sharp knives and hot utensils. Check out the BBC who share 16 non cook ideas.
Or, start following great family friendly food writers like Claire Williamson and her 5 O’ clock Apron for tasty ideas
Talk is essential. Make the time to talk about what’s going on and how children are feeling. Reactions to the changes may result in physical, emotional or behavioural changes. Check out the government’s guidance on what to look for at different ages. Children might not want to talk to you about how they are feeling so finding routes to support is crucial. Childline is offering support for all children on their website and through their helpline (08001111). Last week the government gave key worker status to those working in this call centre in recognition of the need for this service. For 11-16 year olds think Ninja have updated their wellbeing app in light of Covid19.
Share some time together. Social distancing is not social isolation. Watch a film or play a game. How about trying something new and catch The Royal Opera House streaming Opera and Ballet performances during the outbreak via this website. Find out if you love or hate it and share those experiences!
Next week: apps that help reduce social isolation
Dr Verity Jones is Senior Lecturer in Education at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Online Learning Project Lead and Acting Associate Head of Department for Learning, Teaching and Student Experience.