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Supporting children through difficult times

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Supporting children through difficult times

Just like adults, children have bad days, sad days, days where they cannot be bothered or feel overwhelmed with big emotions and the way they present this is just a normal reaction to these feelings and emotions. So, how can you help?

Tears, tantrums, and meltdowns, I suspect we have all been faced with these over this lockdown period and perhaps from ourselves and other adults in our homes more than the children? Imagine how difficult this situation has been on your own wellbeing and mental health and then imagine being a child who perhaps cannot express, articulate, or even start to understand how they are feeling themselves.

Annie Tierney, Head of Operations is a strong believer that children should be treated as little people and deserve the same respectful relationships that would be shared with other adults. She encourages our teams to see beyond the behaviour and try to figure out and help your little ones understand what is going on.

Just like adults, children have bad days, sad days, days where they cannot be bothered or feel overwhelmed with big emotions and the way they present this is just a normal reaction to these feelings and emotions. So, how can you help?

Supporting them process is key

Understanding and supporting children to process these big feelings is key. As parents, and key workers, it is our job is to help them through the situation. They may not know what it is they are feeling, it may be that they think they feel sick, or just cry, have a meltdown, show unwanted behaviour. All of this is just a way to show and tell us that they are not coping and that they need us, you should view their behaviour as a window to their needs and feelings.

Easier said than done but try not to join the chaos and instead try to be calm, remember we need to remain the adult. Children learn by watching and if we are then losing control, having a meltdown or shouting, we are not showing them how to behave and deal with emotions and feelings. If you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed imagine how they might be feeling. Also, take comfort in knowing that strong willed children become adults who can change the world, try to hold on and nurture these characteristics and resist trying to tame or squash them. As a strong will and resilience is what has made the difference for how we as adults have dealt with and faced Covid-19.

Top tips for nurturing mental health

Nurturing the mental health of our children could never be more important so why not start the weekend, next week trying some of these top tips for doing just that:

  • Be patient
  • Share your own feelings and show them to your children
  • Validate your child’s feelings – ‘its ok to feel angry but you shouldn’t throw your toys’, ‘its ok to be sad, what can we do to try to make you feel happy again?’
  • Model healthy behaviour, easier said then done as we are human but remember children learn how to be adults by watching adults!
  • If you make a promise, see it though
  • Hug and have physical touch
  • Respond calmly when their emotions are elevated
  • Be present, really present…..it is so easy to get busy, distracted on your phone
  • Model forgiveness and being sorry. It’s ok to acknowledge that you also shouldn’t have shouted or slammed the door, we are all human after all and doing our best!
  • Set and respect boundaries, don’t keep moving the goal posts

Remember as adults we have slow days, down days, sad days, happy days and days where we wish we could just nap, watch TV and eat cake….or is that just me? Try not to expect too much from our little people, they are still growing, still learning, still developing and are still HUMAN.