Children and young people have experienced an accelerated period of immense disruption in their daily lives. Things they took for granted are no longer possible. Their families and carers are doing things differently too. Emotions are bound to be stronger and reactions faster and more intense.
There is lots of advice online about how to help children and young people to cope. Try to start with the 3 R’s – Reassurance, Routines and Regulation, because good communication, routines and managing emotions with empathy is key for children and young people when they are dealing with anxiety, confusion or frustration.
The following points may also help:
- Understand that the reactions of children and young people to the
pandemic may vary – their concerns and priorities may be different to yours
- Social distancing should not mean social isolation – enable them to connect remotely with friends and relatives
- Provide age-appropriate information, encourage questions and answer straightforwardly
- Limit exposure to emotive news stories
- Keep children and young people busy but build in quieter times for a slower pace too
- Increase the self-efficacy of children and young people by allowing them to be helpful (but not responsible)
- Look after yourself too – you are their best resource
- Seek professional advice if your child’s behaviour, mood or ability to communicate deteriorates significantly from the norm
- Emphasise strengths, hopes and positivity
This link to a social story about the virus may help: https://carolgraysocialstories.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Pandemics-and-the-Coronavirus.pdf
More advice for parents at these respected sites and others:
There are all sorts of cartoons and stories for younger children online but please view them in full yourself before allowing your child to see them, so that you can be sure they are appropriate and be ready to chat to them about what they are seeing and reading.
Lynne Hipkin is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist who works at The Eaves and specialises in working with children, young people and their families. If you would like to get in contact with her or any of our counsellors and psychologists that work with children and families, please call 01483 917000.