16th April 2020
These unprecedented times are challenging for children as well as adults. Their usual routine has been tipped on its head with schools, colleges, clubs, parks and leisure facilities all on lock down until further notice.
This is a time where parents need to take responsibility for comforting their children and supporting them during these tricky times.
Children should respond well to plenty of reassurance from grown ups who they know and trust, such as their parents or grandparents. Make sure you are giving them clear information as well as love and support. Reassure them that they will be looked after should they become ill and remind them that children are very unlikely to get seriously ill. They are likely to worry about you or other members of the family too. There is a lot of media attention on the elderly, so reassure them that their grandparents are safe and looked after. Really listen to your children’s concerns and try your best to provide them with reassuring information.
Their whole world has changed very quickly so it is important to try and keep as much normality as possible during these unusual times. Try not to let bedtimes, discipline and other routines go out the window just because they are off school. If you are separated from their other parent, then try to maintain contact as normal (see our article that covers this in more detail) as long as it is safe to do so.
Some children may find themselves living in a different household to usual or not able to see one of their parents. It is important to still encourage an active relationship with the other parent that they are not living with at the moment. This can be facilitated by FaceTime calls but it is also worth trying other ways to be involved such as playing online games together, sending letters / pictures in the post or helping with school work over the phone.
Children will react differently to home schooling; some may adapt to it well and others may kick up a fuss. The important thing is not to put too much pressure on you to suddenly become a qualified teacher overnight! Try to make activities fun, adapt to your child’s needs and let them set their own schedule if they are finding it overwhelming. It can be especially difficult to teach children of various ages when you are trying to work from home too. If you can get your child to a couple of hours of work a day then that should be fine, paying focus to the core subjects of English and Maths. Take advantage of the apps, YouTube channels and live lessons that are available every day.
Coronavirus has been the topic of conversation at work, at the pub and at home for the last 6 weeks. Think about how much you are saying in front of your children and perhaps try to limit your conversations with your partner or over the phone to friends and family to once younger children are in bed or out of earshot. Overhearing some of this information, such as death statistics or money worries, can be frightening for children to hear. It may be suitable to give them a very simple overview of Covid-19 so that they understand why we are staying home and being cautious but try not to give them too many high-level details.
If you are feeling anxious about the pandemic or the affect that it is having on your lifestyle then children can easily pick up on these feelings from you. Children need plenty of reassurance when they are feeling anxious along with love and support from people they look up to. Check in with your children every now and then to make sure they are not over-worrying and make sure they know that they can come to you if they feel upset. If you notice that your child is not coping well, their behaviour changes or they aren’t sleeping well then seek professional advice. It isn’t unusual for children to become clingier or demanding of your attention, and whilst this can be difficult when you are trying to work from home, it is important to acknowledge them and give them the affection they need.
Out of every testing situation there are positives to take away from each day. Positivity is just as infectious as negativity and this can really help lift the mood of your household. Talking about positive things that are happening in the world or even highlighting the small positives from each day can really help. Gratitude jars or positivity walls are great ways for all the family to put pen to paper and create a visual of all the good things.
Don’t try to shield your children from the news, they will have their own ways of finding out information or will hear (often incorrect) information from their friends. Children having access to iPads, phones and the internet means that they may be exposed to more negative headlines and news stories than you think. Ensure that you have control over your children’s security settings so that they are not seeing anything that may upset them. If your children are on social media themselves then consider looking at their settings or checking what they are looking at.
Make sure that in all the stressful times – sorting childcare, home schooling, working and tackling the food shop, that you find the time to do fun and relaxing activities with your children. Doing something that they enjoy will help reduce their stress and anxiety and also provide them with a relaxed opportunity to open up to you if they need to. This quality time could be sitting on the floor playing Lego, playdough or a video game they enjoy. Or going for a walk somewhere quiet and peaceful.
In order to be able to support your children or the rest of your family it is imperative that you look after your own mental health and wellbeing. You cannot pour from an empty cup and it will be difficult and unconvincing to reassure your children if you are struggling with stress or anxiety yourself. Our article (Remaining Positive During the Covid-19 Pandemic) provides you with some useful tips for taking good care of your mental health during this challenging and unsettling time.
We urge you all to listen carefully to the latest government guidelines and to keep your families safe.
If you are looking for any family legal advice during this time or need some guidance on child contact arrangements, then our Family Law Team are here to support you. Call our office on 01256 844888, email firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to our online chat assistant who is available on our website 24hours a day, 7 days a week.
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The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.
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