Managing your child's mental health during lockdown.
Updated: Jan 31
Lockdown has an effect on everyone's mental health. Missing friends and wider family and being stuck with the same people 24/7 for weeks on end is tough going and not knowing when it will all end makes it even tougher, particularly for our children.
This lockdown seems to be hitting harder and I am speaking with more and more parents who are worried about their children's metal health and the effect another lockdown is having on them.
Increased sibling squabbles, regression, such as playing with toys from when they were younger, being short tempered, moody and physically aggressive are all signs that your child may be struggling along with a lack of motivation, clinginess and problems sleeping.
Here, I have put together a few ways that you can help manage your child's mental health during Lockdown.
Talking things through massively helps and letting your child know that what they are experiencing is perfectly normal and that you are there for them is often all that they need. If they have questions, try and be honest in your answers and keep things simple. If you find your child is reluctant to talk, try while out on a walk or doing something fun together.
Children thrive on routine and a lack of it will have an impact on how they are behaving and feeling. This is particularly true with young children who are unable to talk through their feelings.
Make sure that you are starting the day at the same time, are having meals at the same time and keep to the usual bedtime routine and time.
As we all know, exercise and fresh air are important for our physical and mental well being. It is harder at this time of year to motivate yourself to get out but it is really important that you try and get out each day for a walk or bike ride, even if it is just for half an hour, it will make you all feel happier and will help everyone sleep well too. If you need some ideas for making getting out the door more appealing, take a look at my tips here
This is a great time for siblings to bond, my own two are definitely much closer since the first Lockdown but spending this amount of time together does get hard at times and so it will undoubtedly cause an increase in sibling squabbles.
Try and schedule time in the day where they get to do something by themselves and have some time apart. Equally, having time on their own with you will also help.
If squabbles are a becoming a really big issue, take a look at my tips for managing them here
Get a good night's sleep
Sleep makes us all feel better but during lockdown sleep habits are changing for our children. Later bedtimes, unable to get to sleep and early wakings are all problems parents have talked to me about.
It is important to try and keep to the same bedtime as usual and ensure your children are mentally as well as physically tired.
Avoid screen time in the hour before bed. Instead, play games or read to help them relax.
Find time for fun
It might have to wait until the weekend but have something planned to do together.
While children are feeling disconnected they need times where they can feel connected and having some quality, fun time with you will really help.
Keeping in touch
We are so lucky that we have technology while we are going through this. Setting up regular video calls with friends and family will help when the kids are missing everyone. My own parents have been reading a bedtime story to my children and I have heard other grandparents have played 'Go find it' games or played a board game together. It is definitely not the same but can still be fun and will help your child feel connected to people outside of their bubble.
It may seem a bit of an odd one but art is a therapy. If you have young children, you may feel getting the paints out is a little stressful but it will really help your little one.
Colouring is a mess free way to ease stress and is a really popular activity for kids and grown ups alike, so perhaps set aside a time each day and join in with them, you might find it a helps you too!
If you are really concerned about your child please get in touch with your GP who will be able to point you in the right direction for help or contcact one of the following charities.
Mind - click here
The NSPCC - click here
The Samaritans - click here