I hope you all have a special Easter& school holidays, throughout these challenging and uncertain times with the onset of the Coronavirus (COVID19). In spending a lot more time at home, you and your families hopefully have been able to come together creating some new ideas to do things, that bring you all closer together and bring some kind of stability in your home environment.
Understandably, at this time, it can also bring feelings of anxiety and stress, especially felt, strongly by children of all ages. Now, perhaps more than ever, it is essential to care for the wellbeing of yourself and your children. Please take care of yourselves and your beautiful children.
Centacare has a free Phone Counselling service up and running. If you feel like you need some extra support and would like to chat to someone, please call on 82156700 to make an appointment.
Please find below a useful extract of some practical tips and strategies that could be helpful for you and your families, recommended by Psychologist Doctor Lisa Damour (full article can be found on line)
Thinking of you all and take care
- Be calm and proactive
It is important as parents we remain calm and initiate proactive conversations with our children. Key points to guide healthy discussions include:
- Symptoms: let them know that symptoms are similar to colds and flus (and that they may feel theses at some point), and that exhibiting these symptoms does not mean they have contracted the virus. Encourage them to let you know how you are feeling and reassure them that there is no need to feel unduly frightened.
- Empathise with the fact they may be feeling nervous. Reassure them that the infection is mild, especially for children and young adults.
- Remind them that there are many things we can do to keep ourselves and others safe (handwashing, social distancing etc)
- Stick to routine
We all know children need structure and many of us have changed our routine in response to the Coronavirus. At this time, it is important to stick to a routine, whether it be a modified version of ‘normal’ life, or completely a different routine in response to home isolation or other factors. If you are at home with your child(ren), create a schedule and stick to it to nurture a sense of predictability. Ideally, your schedule could include:
- Learning time
- Outside (at home) time
- Technology free time
- Social time- give your child the opportunity to connect remotely (online chat, social platforms) with friends
For older children (ages 10-11) ask them to design a schedule, and seek input from younger children
- Let your children feel their emotions
- Many children will be mourning cancelled sports and recreation classes, birthday parties, milestones moments, concerts and other activities. Most children will feel deeply disappointed by this, ‘support, expect and normalise that they are very sad and very frustrated about the losses.’
- When in doubt, empathy and support are the way to go
- Check in with them about what they‘re hearing
There is a lot of fake news and misinformation out there, which of course will give away of confusion. Even as adults, we are experiencing confusion about the information we are getting from credible sources. It’s not enough to give your child the facts, instead:
- Find out what your child is hearing
- Ask them what they think is true
- Find out what they already know and find answers together from reliable sources (see reference list below)
- Create welcome distractions
No one knows your child better than you. If your child is dealing with difficult emotions, take cues from them and really balance talking about feelings with distractions. Take time to enjoy some activities together, free from talk of the Coronavirus.
- Monitor your own behaviour
Take care of yourself to manage your own anxiety and try not to overshare your fears with your child. This could mean containing your own emotions, which can be difficult at times. “….remember, that they are the passengers in this car and we are driving the car. And so even if we’re feeling anxious, we can’t let that get in the way of them feeling like safe passengers.”
A curated list of trustworthy websites and resources to support wellbeing is included below.
Resources, Ideas and Activities to Support your Families
We can feel overwhelmed at times by the amount of information we receive and knowing what information to trust. Please find below a curated list of trusted resources to support you and your family’s wellbeing during the Coronavirus.
General information about the virus (Kid friendly)
- Department for Education: Frequently asked questions for parents and caregivers (COVID19) htpps://www.education.sa.gov.au/supporting-students/health-e-safety-and-wellbeing/covid-19-coronavirus/frequently-asked-questions-about-covid-19-parents-and-carers
- The ultimate kids guide to the Coronavirus https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/zQiC5uQqBYwwaioqGXTX7n/live-science-ultimate-kids-guide-to-coronovirus-covid-19.pdf
- The Coronavirus explained to children https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVvVTDhGqaA (mentions school closure)
- Covid-19 explained to children https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX3dpN91E1l (mentions school closure)
Washing your hands
- Germ smart – wash your hands https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoxdS4eXy18
- The Wiggles handwashing song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02FuyeCWFU
- World Health Organisation, how to wash hands https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PmVJQUCM4E
- Handwashing poster download – Soapy Heroes https://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/school/teachers/teachingresources/social/physed/soapyheroeclassresource.pdf
Social Distancing – Stopping the Spread
- Stopping the spread (Australia Government Department of Health) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2zER EU IM
- Social distancing (Australian Government Department of Health) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WCtGFNENYU
Trustworthy sites to gain current information about the Coronavirus
- Department of Health https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert
- World Health Organisation https://www.who.int/
- SAHealth https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wp/wcm/connect/public+content/sa+health+topics+a+-+z/COVID+2019
Mental Health- specific support for the pandemic
- Beyond Blue https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/looking-after-mental-health-during-the coronavirus-outbreak
- Kids Helpline https://www.kidshelpline.com.au/
- Lifeline https://www.lifeline.org.au/get-help/topics/mental-health-and well-being-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak
- Mental health & Corona Virus fact sheet – SA Health https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/f584ac43-db54-44d5-a5df-82c6415f18d7/Mental+Health+and+COVID-19+-
- Head to Health (Aus Gov) Covid 19 support https://headtohealth.gov.au/covid-19-support
- Emerging minds (Aus Gov) https://emergingminds.com.au/
- Reach Out https://au.reachout.com/collections/coping-during-coronavirus
- Parent Help Line(Phone service not available in SA) there is a good range of strategies and resources to support parents https://parentline.com.au/kids
- Headspace for kids https://www.headspace.com/meditation/kids
- Smiling mind app or website https://www.smilingmind.com.au/ and https://www.smilingmind.com/covid19-support-page
- The OT Toolbox- Mindfulness for kids Youtube playlist and a range of verified resources/sites and activities https://www.theottoolbox.com/mindfulness-for-kids-youtube-videos/
- 7 Day gratitude challenge https://biglifejournal.com/blogs/blog/grateful-children-printable-challenge
- Positive Psychology – 13 most popular gratitude activities https://positivepsychology.com/gratitude-exercise/
- Growing with gratitude. Free sign up for a range of resources to support gratitude and general mental health wellness https://www.growingwithgratitude.com.au/
- Brave – a free online program to help children manage anxiety https://www.brave-online.com/
- Childmind Org – an excellent list of video blogs and practical strategies to deal with anxiety and stress in children https://childmind.org/coping-during-covid-19-resources-for-parents/