Six ways to support a child's wellbeing as families adjust to a 'new normal'
What impact is the pandemic having on my child's wellbeing?
It's a question that no doubt many parents have asked themselves since lockdown began, schools closed, social distancing became the norm and everyday routines were thrown out the window back in March.
According to a recent survey by Action for Children close to 40% of parents asked said their children were struggling to socialise after spending so much time at home with 28% of children reporting feelings of anxiety.
But with schools preparing for the start of the new term, more attractions opening and many clubs and after school activities steadily starting-up again, how can parents prepare their children for a 'new normal' away from home?
Busy Bees nurseries has 18 branches in Kent including in Ashford, Maidstone, Gravesend, Medway, Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks and Canterbury and all are currently open for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.
Deena Billings head of quality at Busy Bees has some guidance and some practical tips for supporting children as families adjust to dramatically new ways of living.
She said: "While some children may adjust very quickly to life after lockdown, for others it may take a bit longer. It’s important to recognise that the pandemic has had an effect on everyone, and it’s perfectly natural for children to be working through similar feelings to adults as we all get used to the 'new normal'."
Read Deena's top tips below:
1. Explain the rules and measures in place and why they’re important
Children are likely to be confused about what they are and aren’t allowed to do under new circumstances, which may result in feelings of frustration.
Engaging younger children in role play, such as playing doctors, can help them to become familiar with some of these new experiences. Taking temperature checks on teddies or dolls can help a child to get used to thermometers, and trying on the PPE that they may see others wearing in public will help them to get used to these new precautions.
Having discussions as you play with a child can give them the opportunity to think about any worries they have and ask questions, which may help reduce feelings of anxiety.
2. Explaining social distancing
To help your child understand social distancing, get them to measure out the distance at home, using stickers or a tape measure to visually demonstrate the space or relate the distance to a favourite item.
Setting up cleaning stations for children to explore, with empty spray bottles, cloths and sponges, as well as singing hand washing songs can also provide a fun way to encourage good hygiene habits as they return to school and clubs and need to be a little more independent.
3. Share your feelings to help develop emotional literacy
Younger children are still developing their language and communication skills and talking about feelings can help to develop their emotional literacy – which will enable them to tell you how they are feeling. Discussing your own emotions can also help a child to understand that adults feel the same way, while offering reassurance that it’s perfectly normal to be feeling scared, sad or uncertain sometimes.
4. Maintain good routines around sleeping and eating
Keeping to a routine throughout lockdown has been difficult for everyone, and like adults, changes to daily habits can lead to children being more unsettled, tired or upset, which can result in challenging behaviours. If your child has a loss of appetite, or is struggling to sleep, these could be tell-tale signs that their wellbeing is being affected, but this can be difficult to identify without a routine in place.
Routines help children to understand the balance between enjoyable tasks, such as play, and functional tasks, such as brushing their teeth. Implementing routines will also help to improve a child’s independence, which may have regressed due to an increased amount of time recently spent at home.
5. Encourage your child to take part in activities that support wellbeing
There are a whole host of fun activities that teach children how to manage their emotions, from breathing activities to promote a sense of calm, to physical games that can help to relieve frustration or excess energy. Designed to promote the healthy expression of feelings, these activities can be a quick and effective way of helping children to deal with challenges in everyday life.
6. Do something fun!
The final tip is to do something fun as a family! Positive, exciting and engaging activities provide children with experiences that offer high levels of enjoyment.
This could be anything from imaginary play using a cardboard box to getting outside to explore the natural world. You can adjust the activity depending on the age of your child and where you live.
If you're struggling for ideas there are some suggestions available from Busy Bees at their portal UP available by visiting upatbusybees.co.uk
To find out more about Busy Bees childcare and nurseries in Kent visit www.busybeeschildcare.co.uk