With the Government planning to go ahead with the phased return of Primary schools and Nurseries. I wanted to provide those of you with returning children with some useful tips in preparing them for their return:
-Ask your child’s teacher to send them a welcoming video.
-Talk about what their school routine will be like.
-Plan a school day routine at home eg activities, lunches.
-Make the walk to school numerous times prior to their return date to make this more normal.
-Make mornings calm and talk about how their day will go.
-Inform school of any family loss or recent trauma in the family.
-Send a family photo into school.
-Teach them to listen to their bodies (e.g heart rate, steady hands, nervous tummy).
-Look after yourself too and manage your own stress so you don’t project it onto them!
-Once they return, ask them to draw a picture to bring home. Maybe even make a space at home where you will display it.
Furthermore, I wanted to highlight anxiety and provide you with strategies to reduce anxiety regarding returning to school/ Nursery. Anxiety is already apparent in many adolescents' lives. I hope this helps anyone who has a child with anxiety, as addressing it is key. Anxiety can worsen as they grow.
I'm sure as a parent it is an extremely stressful time with huge amounts of anxiety and questions yourselves! It’s natural for parents to go into protection mode and many of you may attempt to solve your child’s problems and worries by saying things like “Don’t worry” or “Everything will be fine”. But this just avoids the problem. Your children have been kept away from others, far from their normality and some with little understanding. Instead you should build on their coping skills and help empower them.
Worry serves an important function in our lives. Without some amount of worry, we wouldn’t stop to consider actual dangers that do threaten us. Give your child uninterrupted time with you each day to vent worries and brainstorm solutions together. A conversation could go something like this:
--Name a worry floating around in your brain right now.
-What is the worry telling you?
-Let’s break it down and see if that worry is 100% right.
-How can we take that worry thought and change it to a positive thought?
The anxious thought cycle is overwhelming because it causes feelings of helplessness. When anxiety spikes, children get caught in a cycle of “what ifs” and “I can’ts.” Anxious children tend to engage in a variety of cognitive distortions such as black and white thinking and overgeneralising. One thing that helps anxious children is having a concrete list of strategies to use in a moment of anxiety. While some can memorise a list of strategies, others might need to write them down. These could be:
-Deep breathing (Children’s yoga is great for this)
-Progressive muscle relaxation
-Stress ball/ Fidget toys
-Writing it down
-Slow the pace down
-Set clear expectations
-Talk back to worries and reframe thoughts
-Get help from an adult
An example could be if your child becomes anxious about being around a lot of people, by avoiding people it will only validate that anxious thought. It sends the message that all people are dangerous and to stay away. But this is not the message to be giving your child. It’s better to desensitise your child to triggers of anxiety by taking small steps.
-Try looking at pictures of different people online and talking about what feelings they trigger.
-Next, watch people in an outside space from a safe distance.
-Begin making conversations with other people
-Finally, meet up with other adults from a safe distance.
By taking small steps, children can learn to work through their fears and worries.
You are not alone. We are all in this together. If you have concerns about your child’s well-being or your own. Please don’t hesitate to contact, there is support available for all.