Wellbeing during COVID-19

It is important that during these confusing times that we don’t forget the basic principles of maintaining positive wellbeing.  Click here to find further info

Kent Educational Psychology service have produced an excellent, easy to read document that provides some useful tips on maintaining wellbeing during COVID:

Coronavirus Help for Carers and Parents Leaflet 

 

The school has shared the following story with the children to help explain Coronavirus – please click on the image below to access it:

Kent Specialist Teaching and Educational Psychology Services and have produced the following document with some very helpful links to support, advice and resources:

https://www.kelsi.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/108922/Practical-Resources-for-parents-and-carers.pdf

Ways of promoting wellbeing for children during the pandemic

Research has shown that there is a five step approach to ensuring wellbeing during COVID, school closures and through to your child/ren returning to school.  As always, it is important that adults look after their own wellbeing too, and these approaches are equally valid for adults as they are for children!

What?

 
CREATE A SENSE OF SAFETY

Humans do not function properly if they do not feel safe so it is vital for children to feel secure at home and school, even in these anxious times.   

How?

  • Where appropriate, help your child understand what COVID is (e.g. to challenge any misinterpretations). The story above is a great place to start.  Remember, children often don’t need lots of information initially – allow them chances to answer questions.

  • Help your child understand the measures the government, you as a family and the school will have put in place to ensure everyone is safe.

  • Be mindful of the language that you use about the virus – try to avoid adding emotional language like ‘bad’ or ‘nasty’ as this can heighten fear and anxiety.

  • Resources such as Social Stories are likely to be helpful. Provide opportunities for asking questions about these. A great example for a social story about returning to school is available here.

  • Be honest with them but keep your language simple and matter of fact.

  • Be mindful of what your child sees and hears about COVID – things that are targeted at adults (like the news) can be unhelpful as children are not ready to process the level of information they provide.  Newsround and other child-focused sources may be useful. 


SUPPORT ‘EMOTIONAL LITERACY’

Help your child to recognise, talk about and manage their feelings.  

  • It is important that parents (particularly those working with children with specific SEMH needs) recognise the link between emotion (how we feel) and behaviour (what we do).  Please see our webpages on managing emotions for more advice on this.  

  • Parents could model emotional regulation and staying calm through providing opportunities for co-regulation (e.g. whole family mindfulness, going for walks for a change of scenery or yoga exercises).

  • Talk to your child about how they are feeling, allowing them to feel that their emotions are valid. 

  • Research has clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of creative learning opportunities to help create calm during the coronavirus pandemic.  Encourage creative pursuits.


PROMOTE A SENSE OF SELF-EFFICACY

Help your child understand that they have some control over what is happening and that they have the power to make a difference.  This is particularly important at a time where we can feel ‘done unto’.  Child

  • Make sure you ask your child’s views and ideas about the best way they think to do things.  Examples include: how can you make sure that we don’t bring the virus home from school? How can we make sure that we still have some happy, family time?  What do you think is best to make sure you still get the time to do the hobby that you started when schools were closed?  Make sure that they see that their ideas can be put into practice to positive impact.

  • Build on your child’s strengths and aspirations. What do they want to do/achieve?  How do they plan to get there?

  • Provide opportunities to experience success and to use their strengths.

  • Teach your child problem solving skills (at a developmentally appropriate level)

  • Help them to recall times when they have coped with change in the past.

  • Support children/young people to develop self-regulation strategies (see our pages on emotions and the Zones of Regulation) so that they feel in control of their emotions.


SUPPORT SOCIAL CONNECTEDNESS

Help your child understand that they are still part of the school / class and their friendship groups so that they feel connected.

  • Encourage connection between your child and their peers, friends and family – maximising technology as appropriate to their age. 

  • Consider ways of giving to others – cards, letters, cakes, pictures – all that can be left on the doorsteps of friends and family.

  • Look into the wealth of socially distant community activities that may be available in your area – from treasure hunts to code cracking!

  • Make sure you have accessed the messages from class teachers available on the website. Remember you can email your child’s class teacher if you or your child needs that contact.

  • Have a look at the examples of other home learning children have been doing so your child understands their peers are have been doing the same as them.


PROMOTING HOPE

Whilst things may feel difficult at the moment, it is important that adults, children and young people feel things will get better and work out in future. They need to be provided with reassurance and understand that in the long term they will feel positive again.

  • Adults to model optimism and kindness. ‘If kindness is shown; then kindness will be received’.

  • It is important to remember to be kind to yourself too. Support children and young people to notice acts of courage and kindness.

  • Help them to understand that the world will get back to normal.

  • Consider the positives that may come out of COVID – how will life have changed for the better?

Twinkl have produced the following document that sets out how to support adult wellbeing during the pandemic, click here to download (requires login)

  •  Take one day at a time
  •  Focus on things that are in your control
  •  Be prepared to be flexible
  • Celebrate all achievements
  • Plan things that will make you happy

 

Returning to school

Children may feel anxious about returning to school or frustrated that they haven’t yet been able to.  The five principles above can be utilised to explore these feelings.

The School has produced a guide to what the environment currently looks like here so that your child can be prepared.  The following social story may also help them understand the expectations at school.

As pupils return to school during the wider re-opening, teachers will ensure they have opportunities to:

  • develop coping skills and self-care techniques
  • talk about their experiences during the outbreak
  • have one-to-one conversations with trusted adults, if needed
  • learn about topics related to coronavirus (e.g. how to stay alert)
  • renew and develop friendships and peer groups
  • take part in other enriching developmental activities

 

Parents may find the following resources helpful to support wellbeing at home during COVID-19

Information from Public Health England

An incredibly comprehensive guide on supporting child and parental wellbeing during COVID, including for those with additional needs.  Links to further guidance and support from other organisations.

NHS Every Mind Matters

Guidance for parents in maintaining their own wellbeing during COVID

https://www.starline.org.uk/

Home learning advice direct from qualified teachers and parenting and education experts, including blogs and videos on how to support wellbeing

NSPCC advice and support for parents caring for children during the pandemic, including those with additional needs

Young Minds Specific guidance for those struggling during COVID

 

If your child has suffered a bereavement during COVID-19

Please let your child’s teacher know if your family has suffered a bereavement during the pandemic.  This will enable us to ensure the right support is put in place for them and your wider family.  We have a number of trained staff that will be able to help you, including our FLO (family liaison officer). 

Children who have lost a loved one to coronavirus are likely to be dealing with strong emotions (e.g. fear that they are going to die). If a bereaved child chooses to speak to a teacher about their feelings/experiences, the teacher will follow the following advice on supporting bereaved children and:

  • communicate with the child’s family/caregiver to understand the kind of information and support they are happy for staff to provide

  • allow the child to talk freely to explore their emotions
  •  talk honestly, factually and non-judgmentally at a level appropriate to the child

There are some excellent resources on speaking with your child about grief, loss and bereavement here.