The country has entered a new National lockdown. Full information on the restrictions can be found at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
National lockdown: stay at home
You must stay at home. This is the single most important action we can all take to protect the NHS and save lives.
You must not leave your home unless necessary.
Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household or bubble.
Mental health and wellbeing
The staff and Governors at Colville Primary School understand that some children and young people may be experiencing feelings such as anxiety, stress or low mood as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
There are online resources available to help you and your child with mental health, including:
- MindEd, a free educational resource from Health Education England on children and young people’s mental health
- Rise Above, which aims to build resilience and support good mental health in young people aged 10 to 16
- Every Mind Matters, which includes an online tool and email journey to support everyone to feel more confident in taking action to look after their mental health and wellbeing
- Bereavement UK and the Childhood Bereavement Network, provide information and resources to support bereaved pupils, schools and staff
Barnardo’s See, Hear, Respond service, provides support to children, young people and their families who aren’t currently seeing a social worker or other agency, and who are struggling to cope with the emotional impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19). You can access via the ‘See, Hear, Respond’ service self-referral webpage or Freephone 0800 151 7015.
It is also vital to report any safeguarding concerns you have about any child. Contact the NSPCC helpline.
Helping children and young people cope with stress during the pandemic
There are some key actions you can consider to support your child or young person’s mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic, including:
Listening to and acknowledging their concerns. Children and young people may respond to stress in different ways. Signs may be emotional (for example, they may be upset, distressed, anxious, angry or agitated), behavioural (for example, they may become more clingy or more withdrawn, or they may wet the bed), or physical (for example, they may experience stomach aches).
Look out for any changes in their behaviour. Children and young people may feel less anxious if they are able to express and communicate their feelings in a safe and supportive environment. Children and young people who communicate differently to their peers may rely on you to interpret their feelings. Listen to them, acknowledge their concerns and give them extra love and attention if they need it.
MindEd for families is a free online educational resource on children and young people’s mental health for all adults, which can support parents and carers through these exceptional circumstances.
Providing clear information about the situation. Children and young people want to feel assured that their parents and carers can keep them safe. One of the best ways to achieve this is by talking openly about what is happening and providing honest answers to any questions they have, using words and explanations that they can understand. Explain what is being done to keep them and their loved ones safe, including any actions they can take to help, such as washing their hands more often than usual.
There are resources available to help you do this, including the Children’s Commissioner’s Children’s Guide to Coronavirus, or the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) have produced a storybook developed by and for children around the world affected by COVID-19.
Make sure you use reliable sources of information such as GOV.UK or the NHS website – there is a lot of misleading information from other sources that can create stress for you and your family. It will not always be possible to provide answers to all the questions that children and young people may ask, or to address all their concerns, so focus on listening and acknowledging their feelings to help them feel supported.
Being aware of your own reactions. Remember that children and young people often take their emotional cues from the important adults in their lives, so how you respond to the situation is very important. It is important to manage your own emotions and remain calm, speak kindly to them, and answer any questions they have honestly.
For further information on how to look after your own mental wellbeing during the pandemic, see the guidance on how to look after your own mental health and wellbeing or visit Every Mind Matters.
Connecting regularly. If it is necessary for you and your children to be in different locations to normal, make sure you still have regular and frequent contact via the phone or video calls with them. Try to help your child understand what arrangements are being made for them and why in simple terms.
Support safe ways for children and young people to connect with their friends. They can meet indoors or outdoors in groups of up to 6. Where this isn’t possible they can also connect online or via phone or video calls. For more advice on helping your children stay safe online, see this guidance on staying safe online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Creating a new routine. Life is changing for all of us for a while. Routine gives children and young people an increased feeling of safety in the context of uncertainty, so think about how to develop a new routine, especially if they are not at school:
- make a plan for the day or week that includes time for learning, playing and relaxing
- schools have started to welcome back more children, but if they have to stay home from school, ask teachers what you can do to support continued learning at home. The Department for Education has published a list of recommended online educational resources for home schooling
- encourage maintaining a balance between being online and offline and discover new ideas for activities to do from home if needed. The Children’s Commissioner guide signposts to some ideas to help fight boredom
- children and young people ideally need to be active for 60 minutes a day, which can be more difficult when spending longer periods of time indoors. Plan time outside if you can do so safely or see Change4Life for ideas for indoor games and activities
- don’t forget that sleep is important for mental and physical health, so try to keep to existing bedtime routines
- it may be tempting to give children and young people treats such as sweets or chocolate but this is not good for their health, especially as they may not be as physically active as normal. See Change4Life for ideas for healthy treats
- children under 18 that do not live in the same household as their parents or someone with parental responsibility can be moved between their parents’ homes to continue existing arrangements
Limiting exposure to media and talking more about what they have seen and heard. Like adults, children and young people may become more distressed if they see repeated coverage about the COVID-19 pandemic in the media. A complete news blackout is also rarely helpful as they are likely to find information from other sources, such as online or through friends. Try to avoid turning the television off or closing web pages when children or young people come into the room. This can pique their interest to find out what is happening and their imagination can take over. Instead, consider limiting the amount of exposure you and your family have to media coverage.
Young people will also hear things from friends and get information from social media. Talk to them about what is happening and ask them what they have heard. Try to answer their questions honestly but reassure where you can.
How children and young people of different ages may react
All children and young people are different, but there are some common ways in which different age groups may react to a situation like the COVID-19 pandemic. The common reactions to distress will fade over time for most children and young people, though could return if they see or hear reminders of what happened. Understanding these may help you to support your family.
For infants to 2-year-olds
Infants may become more easily distressed. They may cry more than usual or want to be held and cuddled more.
For 3- to 6-year-olds
Preschool and nursery children may return to behaviours they have outgrown, such as toileting accidents, bed-wetting, or being frightened about being separated from their parents or carers. They may also have tantrums or difficulty sleeping.
For 7- to 10-year-olds
Older children may feel sad, angry, or afraid. Peers may share false information but parents or carers can correct the misinformation. Older children may focus on details of the situation and want to talk about it all the time, or not want to talk about it at all. They may have trouble concentrating.
More information available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-supporting-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-and-wellbeing/guidance-for-parents-and-carers-on-supporting-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-and-wellbeing-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak