Helping children cope with stress during the Covid-19 outbreak.
HELPING CHILDREN COPE! Watch for behaviour changes in your child. Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include: • Excessive crying or irritation in younger children. • Returning to behaviours they have outgrown • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits. • Irritability and “acting out” behaviours in teens. • Poor school performance or avoiding school. • Difficulties with attention and concentration. • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past. • Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
Ways to support your child • Reassure your child that they are safe. Let them know it is okay if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn from you how to cope with stress. • Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. • Try to keep up with regular routines.
make sure you and your children eat well, at school and at home
Try to prepare nutritious meals if you can. Eating well is good for both your physical and mental health.
- Eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day to make sure you’re getting a range of vitamins and minerals. Fresh, frozen, dried and tinned options all count.
- Have regular meals and stick to healthy snack options such as fruit, or a small handful of unsalted nuts and seeds.
- Consider taking a daily supplement of vitamin D (10 micrograms), especially during the winter. This is particularly important if you aren’t exposed to much sunlight, are over 65 or have dark skin.
Spend time in nature
Take time to be in nature if you can. If you can go outside, then try going for a walk or run in a green space. Take five minutes to notice five different aspects of nature.
Changing rules and routines can be confusing for children. Try to be a positive role model to help them learn how to manage in uncertain times.
- Play regularly, get them exercising, bake, draw and paint, play instruments and sing – these activities are good for adults too!
- Try getting children to write down things they’re grateful for, or things that have made them feel proud or happy recently.
- Make time to ask your children how they’re feeling. Keeping channels of communication open is so important for children to know that they can come to you if they’re feeling down or scared.
It’s natural to feel a whole range of feelings during times of uncertainty and change. Some days will be better than others. This is a time to be kind to yourself and to those around you. Be patient with yourself and your loved ones.
For many people, the idea of going into a stricter lockdown may feel overwhelming. You might feel sad, anxious, stressed or angry. How you feel might also change as time goes on. If you’re struggling, make sure you reach out to somebody and talk about how you’re feeling. This could be a loved one, your GP, your employer or a mental health organisation.
The following charities can offer support: