Lockdown is challenging for everybody right now but children and teenagers can be hit harder than anyone as they often lack the resources to deal with difficult thoughts and feelings surrounding coronavirus and the impact of isolation.
Whether you’re a teacher, parent or guardian, looking after students’ mental health is vital both during lockdown and when the time comes to integrate back into school.
This article looks at a few of the conversations that you should be having with your children and also introduces our unique ‘back to school’ debrief workshops designed to smooth the pathway back to education.
Managing information overload during lockdown
Every child is different and while some will be constantly talking about coronavirus to their friends and avidly soaking up every piece of news, others will seem to be oblivious to the fact that there is a pandemic at all.
It is a good thing that young people are interested in staying informed but there are potential drawbacks too. An interested child might get swamped with information and need help separating fact from fiction. They might also get overwhelmed with anxiety and unable to switch off from thinking about the virus.
To help children manage this information, it is important to explain to them how to distinguish between facts, speculation and rumours. Help them to understand how to access trustworthy resources like the NHS or CBBC Newsround and to take social media information with a grain of salt. Teach them to pick up on the telltale language of speculation and rumour (e.g.’I saw on Twitter that…’ or ‘My friend’s mum said’…)
It is also a good idea to remind children about healthy screen time and taking part in a range of activities rather than just focusing on coronavirus.
Reinforcing good hygiene and social distancing
On the other extreme, there is the child who seems blissfully unaware of what is going on. It is still worth having a conversation with them to assess their understanding of the situation (and to make sure they are not just bottling up their feelings inside).
One potential issue with a relaxed student is that they may not take hygiene and social distancing as seriously as a more anxious peer. Go back over the reasons for washing hands thoroughly and staying away from other people when going outside.
Support young people out of lockdown with a 2020 Dreams debrief workshop
During lockdown, we realised that it is unfair to expect young people to go back to school and carry on as normal as if nothing has happened. There is likely to be a lot of anxiety and uncertainty, especially for the first few days, as students readjust to the school routine. Some children may even have suffered bereavement while others may need reminding about the ongoing importance of hygiene and social distancing.
To help teachers support their students back into education, we created a new ‘super workshop’, taking content from 10 of our popular Mental Health, Emotional & Physical Well-being workshops and applying them to the topics of lockdown and coronavirus. These include:
- Emotional resilience – bouncing back after lockdown
- Healthy eating and sleeping
- Personal hygiene and physical self-care
- Positive thinking and meditation
- How to be a Supportive Friend
- Death, bereavement and coping with loss
- Understanding depression and knowing when and how to access help
- Recognising suicidal thoughts and getting support
- Anxiety, OCD and the impact of the media (including fake news)
- Healthy relationships and reaching out to others
For more details about how we have linked these topics, please see our dedicated coronavirus debrief webpage. If you are ready to make a provisional booking now, please call 0800 471 4983 today or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org