Children as young as seven are suffering from depression due to pressures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is found that over 7,000 parents are now worried about their child’s wellbeing or education.

With schools unlikely to reopen until April, the stress of juggling work with home-schooling for parents will be set to continue over the next few months. But with many children feeling anxious worry and nervous,  parents can find ways in which to support their children during their time at home.

Excessive screen time can have a negative impact on a child’s mental health and sleep.  Whilst we understand that screen time is a much needed distraction at times (we are not suggesting to get rid of it completely) we did want to draw up several ways in which you can improve your child’s mental stability during the lockdown months.

Sleep is a huge factor here.  We know as adults that getting a much needed good nights sleep is paramount to making us feel refreshed and ready to start the new day ahead.  And this is exactly the same for our children no matter how old they are.  Here we offer some guidance on maintaining health sleeping patterns and how promoting exercise will help your children learn under difficult circumstances.

1) Maintain a sleep routine

With anxious dreams for us all, insomnia  and restless nights, the Covid-19 pandemic seems to be causing a huge affect on everyones sleep at the moment including our children.

And whilst many children are being home schooled, the lack of morning routine will cause a bad start to the day.  Let’s face it, it can be super easy to fall out of what was once a great morning routine.  Bedtimes are becoming later and therefore, children are waking up tired, grumpy and not ready to tackle the day. However, as we all know, quality of sleep can have a huge impact on our daily mood and wellbeing. lack of sleep can result in mood swings, behavioural problems and cognitive problems which can impact their ability to learn.

What can we do?

Creating a clear set routine every night can help your child to sleep more easily will help to support their overall wellbeing.  Try to include the same set of activities each night, such as a warm bath, listening to music, reading a bedtime story or breathing techniques can help your child to wind down at the end of the day. Have an Alexa? Try popping it into your child’s room and ask Alexa to sing them a lullaby, or play a soothing song whilst they drift off.

2) Communication is key

Communication is essential when it comes to not only allowing your child to feel connected and ensure trust, but it also supports their mental health and wellbeing.  Talking can be done in a variety of ways in many settings.  Often, children can suffer in silence and without realising, can become withdrawn and not share how they are feeling.  We as parents are busy trying to juggle full time work, school as well as managing our own mental health.  But we must remember to talk.

What can we do?

There are many ways to encourage conversation within the family.  Set a family meeting 2 times a week where the children can chair it themselves, and set questions and answers.  Have a ‘family games night’ where you all come together and play a game.  Whilst playing and having fun, this will naturally open conversation up and will also be fantastic family quality time.  Perhaps your child prefers to communicate in a different form?  Drop them a text or leave them a note in their room for them to find.  You may find they write you back!

3) Put yourself in their shoes

It is suggested that lockdown has caused children to struggle with separation anxiety  and attention-needing as they are more dependent on their parents than ever before. The struggle of home schooling is real and can bring a whole host of new emotions and challenges that we didn’t have to face before  –  frustration and tantrums to name a few.  This can have significant negative effects on both you as a parent and your child.

What can we do?

As parents ourselves, we are often trying to figure out what it must be like for our child/ren at this current time.  What difficulties are they facing?  What new changes have they experiences?  And could all these new circumstances be the reason for a whole host of new behaviours? Probably, yes.   As parents we must try and see things from a different light.  If your child is feeling sad or is irritable , take time to sit and analyse what the cause may be and listen to what they have to say before you respond.   Empathy is a behaviour that we need to take on board at this current time.

4) Get fresh air daily

This seems a simple one, but it does work! Being outdoors no matter what the weather is food for the soul and this is something that we can all fit into our day.   Being outdoors and exercising is fantastic for everyone’s mental health and if your child is having a down down, going for a bike ride or a whizz on their scooter may just be the answer.

What can we do?

Get in the garden and get planting.  Go for a walk, visit your local park and get them bikes out of the garage!  There are many ways in which we can get outside to exercise.  And sometimes the thought of doing so can take much effort.  But it is a fantastic way to blow them cobwebs and recharge them batteries.  It gives your child a purpose and is a great supportive method for their wellbeing.