Looking after your child's mental health during Lockdown
Not only has life changed for us, it’s changed for our children too. Some may adapt quite easily, some may find it a little strange but may manage to cope and others may find it overwhelming. However they may appear to be adjusting, it’s important to aware that they may have questions and concerns and as time passes they may become more frustrated by their apparent lack of freedom.
Give them time to be heard. Listen to their concerns and acknowledge them. You may not have any answers and to be honest, answers may not make them feel any better. If they are old enough to understand and reason, then they may prefer that you all discuss the situation and may appreciate the opportunity to express their own thoughts and ideas. Reassure them that you’re all in this together and that you’ll work it out together. Expressing their concerns can help to ease their anxiety or concern.
Share jobs around the house. Try to give each person a job (or jobs) to do every day. You may do some jobs on your own and some together but allow them the chance to do their jobs their way. Whether it is tidying, cleaning, cooking or baking. Little ones will need more supervision and you may need to do them again yourself once they are in bed! Children like to feel useful, that they’re helping you out, that you are all part of a team. Not only are they (hopefully) lightening your load but they’re also learning useful life skills and possibly developing good habits that might last beyond lockdown.
Have time apart! Set aside some time every day when everyone can have their own space. Whether you have enough space to do this all at the same time or whether you need to set up a rota. The age of your child will determine how long this time should be. And yes, for those with little ones, you may need to wait until their bedtime before you get your time, but try to make sure that you get some time even if it’ s only 15 minutes! Encourage everyone to respect this time as much as possible. You will all feel the benefit!
Share aspects of your day. Try to find some time towards the end of the day to share with each other something about your day.
· What was strange or difficult?
· What didn’t you like (if anything)?
· Maybe explore why they didn’t like it or why it was difficult and whether there may be ways to make it better/different next time.
· What was funny or interesting?
· What was the best part of their day?
Talk about your day too, although you may need to be consider whether what you say will make them feel at risk. You are their safe person, you provide them with strength and security and although they need to be aware that you don’t always find things easy, they need to feel confident that you are coping in spite of the difficulties. Keep your serious issues for a trusted adult.
Appreciate one another. Tell each other one thing that you like or appreciate about the other person.
· I liked it when you did or said …
· I really appreciate the way you …
This moves the focus away from the challenges that spending so much time together brings, and helps everyone to focus on the positive aspects of their relationships.
During this time in lockdown you may feel as though there is so much to cram into your day. It is likely that things may take longer to do because there are so many more distractions. Trying to adopt one or two of the above suggestions at a time into your day may help everyone to feel a little more comfortable. Taking them all on at once may only increase the pressure on you and everyone else.