This weeks it’s children’s mental health week and this year possibly more than any other years, with lockdown and home schooling it’s so important that we talk to our kids about their feelings and worries.
Here’s some tips from the NSPCC Depression, anxiety and mental health | NSPCC, that we’ve found really helpful for our three teens.
Encourage your child to talk to you or another trusted adult about how they’re feeling. We’ve got tips on how and where to have difficult conversations. Remember, this doesn’t always have to be face-to-face – they might find it easier writing their thoughts down. You could create a ‘feelings box’ where you all put good, sad or difficult feelings in and then talk about them at the end of the day.
For younger children, play can be a great way to help them talk about their worries or give them a good distraction when they’re upset. But not being able to play with their friends can be hard. Set aside time to play together and have fun.
- You might notice some changes in your children’s behaviour. Younger children may start thumb sucking or bedwetting and older children may have mood swings and be irritable. You might also notice changes in appetite or sleep patterns. These can be ways your child is experiencing stress. It takes time to adjust to the new “normal” and children may need lots of support and reassurance to help them through it.
- Your child might have a very real fear of the people they love and care for dying or getting seriously ill. It can be difficult but it’s okay to have conversations about death. Marie Curie has advice on talking to children about health, and Childline has advice for young people when someone dies
- Some young people might be anxious about if there will be enough food. Have conversations about how what they might see in the news or online isn’t always the same as what’s happening. Involve them in food shopping and be mindful of conversations you might have with other adults about frustrations buying food.
- For children with eating disorders, worries about food can be really challenging. Talk to them about their worries and speak to Beat, the eating disorder charity, if you need advice. Read their advice on eating disorders and coronavirus for up-to-date information and support.
- Rolling news and social media can cause a lot of anxiety. Remind children of the facts and explain what false or sensationalised information is. It’s important to allow your children to ask questions about the things they see online. And if you don’t know the answer, letting them know that some things aren’t certain or known yet is okay.
Dr. Russell Smith