Dr Julie Clough, Clinical Psychologist within Child and Family services at the Trust has shared some advice for families and children during this time.
Who thought, six weeks ago, that our children’s lives would be turned upside down by the drastic changes we’ve all had to make to control the spread of coronavirus? With barely any warning there was no school, no seeing friends or grandparents, no activities, trips and holidays to look forward to. Children have also witnessed scary news, uncertainty, anxious adults around them and daily routines transformed indefinitely. It’s hard to imagine how that feels to children of different ages and what sense they make of it all, isn’t it?
All family situations are unique, so there are no generalisations about how children may feel. They may experience boredom, anxiety, frustration, sadness or loneliness but may also see some positives and, with support from adults in their lives, feel relatively optimistic.
There’s so much great advice on daily routines, exercise, fresh air, home teaching and activities to keep everyone as healthy and happy as possible that it can feel overwhelming at times, can’t it? These things are important, but not paramount to how your children emerges from these challenges, so try your best but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t manage everything.
In time, our children will tell our grandchildren about when Mum worked at home, Dad became their teacher, a centenarian topped the charts and you did PE together in the living room. Many will also share how the virus changed their family forever. They may not remember the maths you taught them, but they will certainly remember how they felt, and what they learned from you about managing those feelings - skills that will stay with them throughout their lives, helping them through other tough times. So be open with them about your own feelings – without overwhelming them – and let them see you taking positive steps to manage them, including asking for help if you need to. Let them express their feelings openly, through talking and play. Acknowledge and label all feelings and help them accept and take positive steps to manage them, including seeking help if your child is unusually withdrawn, angry, sleepless or anxious for more than two weeks. By doing this you will be repaying your children, in resilience, for the strength and encouragement they give you through this challenging time.
Helpful online resources:
- British Psychological Society: “Talking to children about coronavirus”
- CoolMinds: “Young Person’s guide to staying well during the coronavirus outbreak”
- “My 2020 COVID-19 Time capsule record”
- University of Reading: “Supporting children & young people with worries about COVID-19”
- Family Action Carlisle 07734 003 789
- North Cumbria Child & Adolescent Mental Health service 01228 603017
- Young Minds 0808 802 5544