Wed, 06 Jan 2021
As a consequence of the new, faster-spreading variant of the coronavirus, schools have closed their doors until February half-term at least. Children already have their own understanding of Covid-19 and it is for each parent to decide how to filter, age-appropriate information about school closures.
Primary school teacher and well-being practitioner Amanda Bailey, based in Wash Common, offers some tips for coping with this next lockdown phase.
"Children should be encouraged to tell their own story, this provides an opportunity to affirm, as well as address any concerns they may express, relieving any anxieties. Most children will remember their pre-school booster vaccinations, reflecting an optimistic and positive message explaining that doctors and nurses are busy vaccinating lots of people, making sure they don't get poorly if they catch Covid, while we stay at home, keeping everyone safe.
"Parents' and carers’ primary concern is maintaining the emotional balance and sense of well-being for all family members. Current events are beyond our control but, through our modelling, children can respond with positive, optimistic and kind choices.
"Using the acronym LOCKDOWN, please find some suggestions below:
Learn – in addition to following school-led remote learning, use this once-in-a lifetime opportunity to learn a new skill: master footballing skills, learn to knit, cross-stitch, draw animals or cartoon characters, tie basic knots, prepare and cook tasty, healthy meals.
Optimism – rather than thinking about when the situation improves, focus on the things you're happy with NOW. Use a gratitude journal or recycle a large jar into a 'sunshine jar' with everyone writing daily contributions of things that have made them happy. As a family plan events: a special meal, a birthday celebration, when restrictions are lifted an outing or holiday – places to stay, visit, eat, activities.
Connect – digital platforms such as Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp help us stay connected with family and friends. For younger children, short, fun and active sessions e.g. play a game such as Top Trumps, find everyday items in a scavenger hunt, share an active story-time with Grandparents, repeating refrains, acting out character parts. With clear time-frames, older primary children may enjoy playing and chatting with friends using age-appropriate video-games. Whilst teenagers can meet up with friends using messaging, video chats and other social platforms.
Kindness – feelings associated with kindness result in the production of two important hormones; oxytocin (love hormone), dopamine (reward chemical), the opposite to adrenalin and cortisol, which flow when feeling stressed. Giving boosts happiness: bake some cakes and share with someone living on their own, place colourful pictures and messages in your window for people to enjoy during their daily walk, make a thank you card for someone: the refuse collector, delivery driver, shop assistant.
Daily Routine – The 'same sea, different boats' metaphor will resonate with many; it's finding what works best for you and your family. During times of change a routine gives children an important sense of security and stability, where possible stick to predictable mealtimes, bedtimes, work, exercise, play and family times.
Oxygen – put your own oxygen mask on first, self-compassion and self-care are of vital importance. Following on from the previous metaphor, research suggests mothers in particular have been the 'captain of the family ship' during periods of lockdown; juggling home-schooling, work and household life, so remember the captain’s well-being is paramount – whether it's a parent, grandparent, sibling or carer.
Wow – synonyms for 'wow' include hooray, yippee and yahoo. Try to think and talk positively, if you find yourself thinking or talking in a negative way, accept and acknowledge the emotion you are feeling and take some time to soothe – walk in nature, breathe deeply, listen to some music, sing, dance, do something you love.
Nature – being in nature promotes happiness and well-being, as far as is practicable take your daily walk in natural surroundings, build shelters or dens, enjoy nature-based scavenger hunts, make bird feeders, bug hotels and remember children's playgrounds remain open.
"Despite the lockdown, you need not be alone, services are still available to support your emotional health and well-being needs during these unprecedented times. If you need support, please reach out, the technology, particularly video-chat allows for a genuinely trusting connection."
Amanda Bailey offers bespoke courses via Zoom, for more information visit: www.beberkshire.co.uk