Key points from Public Health England on helping to maintain children’s Mental Health.
- Listen and acknowledge. Look out for any changes in their behaviour. Children may feel less anxious if they are able to express and communicate their feelings. Listen to them, acknowledge their concerns, and give them extra love and attention if they need it.
- Provide clear information about the situation: All children and young people want to feel that their parents and caregivers can keep them safe. Provide honest answers to any questions they have. Explain what is being done to keep them and their loved ones safe, such as washing their hands regularly.
- Be aware of your own reactions: It is important to manage your own emotions and remain calm, listen to and acknowledge children and young people’s concerns, speak kindly to them, and answer any questions they have honestly.
- Connect regularly: Make sure you still have regular and frequent contact via the phone or video calls with them if you live away.
- Create a new routine: Make a plan for the day or week that includes time for learning, playing and relaxing; be active for 60 minutes a day; keep to bedtimes etc.
- Limit exposure to media and talk about what they have seen and heard: Try to avoid turning the television off or closing web pages when children come into the room. This can pique their interest to find out what is going on – and their imagination can take over. Try to answer their questions and reassure them in an age-appropriate manner, avoiding too much detail.
The guidance also outlines how children of different ages may respond for example: 3 to 6-year olds may return to behaviours they have outgrown: toileting accidents, bed-wetting etc