If a child or you are anxious or worried about coronavirus, there are things you can do to help, and if they’re struggling with their mental health, we have advice to help you support you and them and keep safe. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world at the moment and there won’t always be answers to the questions people are asking.
Talk about feelings and worries with children
Encourage the child to talk to you or another trusted adult about how they’re feeling. – Remember, this doesn’t always have to be face-to-face – they might find it easier writing their thoughts down, you could create a ‘feelings box’ where you all put good, sad or difficult feelings in and then talk about them at the end of the day.
For younger children, play can be a great way to help them talk about their worries or give them a good distraction when they’re upset. But not being able to play with their friends can be hard.
News and social media can cause a lot of anxiety. – Remind children of the facts and explain what false information is. It’s important to allow your children to ask questions about the things they see online and if you don’t know the answer, letting them know that some things aren’t certain or known yet is okay.
Help give children a sense of control
Uncertainty about the future, can be stressful. – While there’s no right answer, there are lots of free online tools and resources that can help children work through their worries. Have a look online together to find ones that work best for the child and help them feel like they have control.
Let your children read advice and information that’s tailored to them. –
- Childline- have advice on coronavirus and lots of tools to help alleviate anxiety
- Young Minds- have advice for young people on lookig after your mental health while self-isolating
- Department of Psychiatry- has guides to help explain to children that someone has died
Helping a child with Anxiety or Depresssion
Realising that a child may be struggling with their mental health and experiencing anxiety or depression can be hard to accept, sometimes parents can feel like it’s their fault or want to know why their child is struggling with a mental health problem. This is completely understandable, but the most important thing you can do is to reassure the child and not judge them for how they’re feeling.
Ways to help a child who is struggling:
- Letting them know you’re there for them and are on their side
- try talking to them over text or on the phone if they don’t feel able to talk in person
- being patient, staying calm and approachable, even if their behaviour upsets you
- recognising that their feelings are valid and letting them know it’s okay for them to be honest about what it’s like for them to feel this way
- thinking of healthy ways to cope you could do together, like breathing exercises or mindfulness
- encouraging them to talk to their GP, someone they trust or Childline, especially if they’re finding it hard to talk at home.
If you’re worried, it’s important to get help right away. NSPCC have trained counsellors that can provide help or advice over the phone on 0808 800 5000. Children and young people under 19 can also get support from Childline over the phone on 0800 1111 or online on 1-2-1 counsellor chat | Childline 24 hours a day.
However a child or young person is feeling, remind them that they’re not alone and there are ways to cope and feel better. Childline also has online advice and tips for young people on coping with suicidal feelings that they can use right now.