COVID-19 is changing not only our lives but our children’s lives too. An Ofsted report published on Tuesday looking into the effects of the pandemic revealed that older children were showing signs of mental distress. With younger children’s mental health being affected too, it is incumbent on parents and carers to help our children understand what is happening and how to navigate their feelings.
Parents may have already seen some emotional changes in our children and young people, whether it’s more clinginess, problems sleeping, appetite changes, irritability or meltdowns. Not only can parents reduce anxieties and fears in children by looking after their own emotional health, but there are several approaches that can be taken to create a safe atmosphere where children feel comfortable sharing how they feel right now.
Talking is really important and won’t make the situation worse. With reflective listening parents can notice and name their child’s worry. This will help normalize and validate their feelings.
Comforting children when things are difficult is needed now as much as ever. Offering more cuddles and more one on one time will certainly help your child feel more supported and protected.
It’s healthy to remember that it may not be possible to be the perfect parent, but choosing compassion (to self and others), connection, love and patience will go a long way when parenting our children through COVID-19.
The Gruffalo illustrator Axel Scheffler has published a valuable resource to explain COVID-19 to children between the ages of 5-9, which can be found here. Our Supporting Your Children’s Emotional Wellbeing During COVID-19 webinar can also help parent or carers who may be struggling to know how best to support and guide their children during this difficult period.