Kids Mental Health
Back to School... Back to Normal?
If you have school-aged children you may have found the few weeks challenging with our little ones (and big ones!) returning to school during the pandemic.
My boys (13 & 14) were nervous, but excited, to get back to school after six months of not seeing friends and actually keen to get back into learning in real live classes and not online!
Things are certainly different now; from wearing masks on the school bus, being bubbled in year groups and not being able to play freely as they used to. Even as teenagers my boys need the freedom to run around and to burn off their excess energy - they found it a shock to get back to such a restrictive regime. They almost wanted to return to home schooling again!
I did hope that over time, things would ease but even as I write this (we are only into the 2nd week of school), restrictions seem to be getting tighter and many school children across Salford and Manchester are already being sent home to self isolate.
It’s worrying as a parent to see how this will all pan out and the impact on our children’s mental health cannot be ignored. School is one of the key focal points in our children’s lives, giving them stability, meaning, self-worth, esteem, and a purpose. How will the new measures and disruption to school life affect them?
Different age groups will be affected differently. We asked local expert Caroline Simmons for advice on how to spot the tell-tale signs that their mental wellbeing is at risk and what can we do to help...
Mental Health in Children
We’re all getting used to a new kind of normal and our children are no exception. New data from Public Health England (PHE) revealed that Covid-19 has caused an increase in anxiety in young people,and a third of young people aged 8-24 reported being more worried, sad and stressed than before lockdown.
That’s no surprise. Our brains are programmed to be fearful of change and uncertainty – it’s how we
keep safe. So how can you tell if your child is struggling and how can you help?
Signs of Anxiety
Physical signs may include:
• Headaches and upset stomachs
• Sleep problems and nightmares
Behavioural signs may include:
• Lack of motivation
• Feeling overwhelmed
• Irritability or angry outbursts
• Over or under eating
• Social withdrawal
• Obsessive thoughts or behaviours
What can you do to help?
• Manage your own stress and anxiety. Children will pick up on your signals and follow your lead.
• Encourage your children to discuss any worries with you and research the facts. News stories are good at catastrophising and the truth is often reassuring!
• Help your children to switch their focus from what’s going wrong to what’s going well. One way to do this is to ask what’s been good about their day at school instead of how their day was.
• Limit their exposure to the news and social media. Bad news can overwhelm us, and our brains need to relax and switch off. Have a cut off point 2 hours before bed.
• Encourage a good night-time routine, sleep is so important because it’s when we process our stresses from the day.
• Encourage activities and hobbies they enjoy where they can switch off from their worries, such as music or sport.
For more advice get in touch with:
Caroline Simmons BSc, CNCH, AfSFH, NCH, NLPSolution Focused Hypnotherapist & Psychotherapist