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Ways to help children’s mental health during lockdown

Published: Tuesday, 2nd February 2021

What to look out for and ways to support children's mental health during lockdown

Due to the national lockdown and ongoing pandemic, it’s understandable that some children may be struggling and feeling low or worried about the situation. 
With Children’s Mental Health Week (opens in a new window) taking place on 1st -7th February 2021 it’s an ideal time to focus on children’s mental health and look at ways to identify a child who may be struggling during lockdown and advice on how to support a child’s mental wellbeing.  

What to look out for 

Children and young people are often shy, compliant and unable to articulate how they feel, so possible problems can pass unnoticed. Some children may develop behaviours that help them to avoid situations that make them fearful or anxious. Children or young people may also complain of physical complaints such as headaches, stomach aches or excessive tiredness. Infants or toddlers may show excessive upset or clinginess when separated from someone close to them or sleep problems.

Symptoms of low mood may include:

  • sad
  • anxious or panicky
  • more tired than usual or being unable to sleep
  • angry or frustrated
  • low on confidence or self-esteem
  • loss of appetite or over-eat

Ways to help 

Take some time to give the child or young person your full attention and ensure you are available to listen to your child to share their worries, fears or problems. Ensure to make eye contact, listen and put aside distractions - the washing up can wait for ten minutes! If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are important to you. This can be nurtured further by experiencing fun activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with them. 

Children and young people may find it easier to talk if they are engaged in an activity such as drawing, crafting, walking or having a 'kick about' with a ball.

Activities families can do together

  • Play board games
  • Read together
  • Cook together
  • Go for a walk
  • Have a ‘kick about’
  • Draw or craft something
  • Video call friends and family

Spend some quality time together playing board games or reading. Playing board games provides an opportunity for families to interact in a fun way. Board games are entertaining and educational. They help develop skills like concentration, social interaction, critical thinking and decision making.

Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness, it can also improve mental wellbeing. Spending time outside, going for a walk or cycling can greatly improve a low mood.

Encouraging positive peer relationships - facilitate video calls so they can see and chat to their friends. It’s important to maintain relationships and have positive social interactions. Even babies and toddlers can benefit, as they recognise voices and improve language skills.

Further guidance and advice 

Links, services and publication supporting emotion health and wellbeing

Active listing techniques 

Anxiety and how to support it

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