Support for Parents
Coping with children at home from school during the Coronavirus outbreak
This is an unprecedented time for both children and parents. Some children may be blissfully unaware of the fear about Covid-19 around them, whereas other children will be much more afraid. Either way, being off school or work for an uncertain length of time poses challenges for everyone. Here are some key suggestions to try to keep in mind during this time to support you and your children.
Your anxiety will make them more anxious. Try to manage your own tension and anxiety:
It is very hard at the moment when there are many unknowns and constantly evolving information but if you are feeling anxious, try to limit your time on social media or the news when checking updates about the Coronavirus (once or twice a day should give you all you need).Try to limit talk about it, especially in front of the children.Answer questions openly but don’t talk about it all the time and be aware that children listen to the conversations you have with others. Remember, the vast majority of people are absolutely fine if they contract the virus and recover quickly- repeat this as often as you need.
Bubble of control- there are things in life we can do something about and there are things we cannot. Worrying about those things we have no control over is wasted energy as our worrying does not enable us to change or improve the situation. It only makes us miserable and exhausted. Try to talk to children about this, especially if they are worried about other family members. Think with them about things that they can do, such as washing their hands, looking after the people in the house with them and keeping their elderly/vulnerable friends and family members cheerful and connected with contact from them.
Create and keep to a loose routine. We are all creatures of habit. Whilst the odd day or short period of being without plans is nice, this can be difficult when it goes on for extended periods. Children are used to the routined times of school and will miss that (even if they don’t think they will!) which will show in their behaviour and mood. Try to work with them and get them to join in to draw up a loose time table for the week and each day- including when they will get up and get dressed, activities for the morning and afternoon, when meals and snacks are and when exercise and unplanned/screen time are and stick to a predictable bedtime. More screen time is expected during this stage but if you can limit it then it will maintain its appeal for longer. Keep it a working document and adjust it with the children as you need, so that it doesn’t become something to argue about or resist.
Your children’s behaviour and emotions will need supportive handling while they are off school: As children discover that this is not like another summer holiday and that they can’t go out and do the things they like and see their friends and family as they usually do, they may become frustrated and you may see behaviour issues rumble. This is normal and expected in such abnormal circumstances. Try to manage the behaviour by talking about the feelings they are having (anxiety, frustration, anger or sense of injustice) and be empathetic about them. Be calm and confident in letting them know that everything will be OK life will go back to normal (whatever your own secret worries might be) soon enough.
Look after your own emotional wellbeing: Whatever way that may be, try to carve out a small amount of time each day to do whatever works for you to feel yourself and OK. It’s much harder to deal with minor irritations or bigger challenges when you are not feeling right yourself. Some ideas are:
- Relaxation and mindfulness (there are lots of guided relaxation videos on youtube. Try these: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxcKyzZYJ04 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZToicYcHIOU
- Kids can join in too https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bk_qU7l-fcU
- Yoga - look at our Fitness Fun page
- bubble bath,
- music, dancing
- Nails, hair, make up
- Here is an article with 100 ideas for things to do https://eu.usatoday.com/story/life/health-wellness/2020/03/16/coronavirus-quarantine-100-things-do-while-trapped-inside/5054632002/
Exercise- try to do something active each day. Our bodies are used to doing more than just staying in the house, even if its usually only walking to and from the bus stop. Try to engage children in this too as they have much more energy than adults and will be much happier and behaviour easier to manage if they can use some of it up by being active. This website has a long list of ideas for indoor active ideas for children- there are loads more ideas online and Pinterest has thousands.
Within the restricted limits, get outside in the fresh air at least once a day if possible.
Stay connected: allow kids to talk and face time or WhatsApp video call their friends and family members and make sure you do this yourself. Try to keep in contact with neighbours where possible/appropriate. Allow kids to think of ideas about how to cheer up e.g. elderly relatives or neighbours.
Notice the positives- keep and develop a pinboard/diary/jar/list for your own family experiences and things that you have liked about each day. Something good (or even just ‘OK’) comes out of each day. Every family member can contribute. Look out for the positive stories in news. Talk about happy memories with each other.