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What we Need to be Telling our Children




The last few weeks have brought about lots of uncertainty and worry for many of us. With actions being taken that we possibly didn't think we would see many of us are feeling unnerved about the situation. 

We have no doubt spoke at lengths with our friends and family trying to make sense of it all, but have you stopped for a moment to think about how all this is affecting the children in our care?

Here in the UK it has now been announced that schools will close on Friday and we have no idea when they will re-open. 


This is going to have an impact on the children and it's really important that we are doing all we can to ensure they feel safe and secure at this time. I wanted to write this post so you can take a moment over the next few days to bring reassurance to the children and encourage them to talk to you if something is troubling them. 



THE MEDIA

Where possible turn over stations and programs that are showing distressing images of the outbreak. As an adult some of the scenes I have witnessed have played on my mind but I can be rational and put things into perspective. Children can't always do this. They don't need to see the troubling situations unfolding and they don't need to be exposed to the what if's and buts. 



HAVING THE CHILDREN AT HOME

It's absolutely nothing to be ashamed about but many people will find having the children at home daunting. Especially when we don't know how long for. We will be restricted on where we can go which may also put a spanner in the works for you. 

Children thrive off routine and that does go out the window when we're at home. It won't be easy but try and limit the amount of conversations you have around the children about 'dreading the schools being shut', 'dreading having them home' etc. Keep things positive and upbeat. 



ENCOURAGING THEM TO BE OPEN

The children will have seen and heard conversations that may be troubling them. They may be lying awake at night with a worry or two on their mind. Encourage them to talk to you about any questions they may have. 

I did this with my daughter last night. I have been really conscious about what she's exposed to on it all and she said 'are we going to die from this virus?' It just shows that no matter how careful we are they will be picking up on things and we want that open conversation to always be there for them. 



THEIR LEARNING

We don't know how long the children will be at home for. We are told by schools constantly that if your child misses even a day of school their learning will be impacted. I know this is a huge worry for many parents right now as they feel out of their depth with trying to continue teaching their children from home. 

Please don't worry. Children no matter what age are learning all the time. Take this time to enjoy some walks together in the open air, read stories - children can learn so much from reading! You can use our handy guide of websites that have some great interactive games and activities to keep your children busy too. Bake a cake together and let the children help you with measuring their ingredients. 

Just because there isn't a pen to paper task doesn't mean that children are not learning. In fact - children learn by doing so these practical hands on opportunities that you can offer them over the coming weeks will be so valuable to their overall learning. When you break it down you are more than likely teaching them more than you realise. 

I have also put together a handy guide of 140 ideas of fun things to do together at home that you can look at. I have printed ours out and stuck it to the fridge. 



GOOD HYGIENE
It's a time to really talk about and emphasise the importance of good hand washing and making sure we keep clean. The children will have noticed a real shift in this at school before they broke up where hand washing was happening a lot more frequently. They may have been to the shops with you and noticed antibacterial stations with gel that they haven't seen before. 

Talk to them about why this is important at this time. How good hygiene can help avoid you becoming poorly or spreading germs onto someone else. 




WHAT WE NEED TO BE TELLING THE CHILDREN

Child friendly honesty is key during this time. “Use age-appropriate language, watch their reactions, and be sensitive to their level of anxiety”, advocates UNICEF. 
And if you can’t answer their questions, “don’t guess”, but tap into websites like UNICEF and the World Health Organization for guidance.

“Keep regular routines and schedules as much as possible, especially before they go to sleep, or help create new ones in a new environment”, urges UNICEF.
If there is a local outbreak, tell your children that they are not likely to get sick and that lots of adults are working hard to keep your family safe.
Talk to the children about how people are helping one another. Helping older people with shopping, supporting one another by being there for someone who needs to talk. “It can be a big comfort to know that compassionate people are taking action”.

“Remind your children that they can have other difficult conversations with you at any time”, concluded UNICEF. “Remind them that you care, you’re listening and that you’re available whenever they’re feeling worried”.





We need to support the children we look after and let them know that they are going to be ok and chances are their parents and families are going to be ok too. Tovah Klein, director of the Barnard Center for Toddler Development at Columbia University said that "It's a balance between addressing children's worry and fears, because that is real, and reassuring them because the truth is most people do get better from this."

If you don't know the answer to a question they ask - that's ok, be open and tell them you don't know. You can always offer to look to find the answer together or tell them you will come back with an answer once you do know. 

It is paramount that we try and keep control of our stresses and anxieties as our children may be picking up on this. 

Above all - this is a time to relax a little together. To reconnect. A rare opportunity where we have time. Time to talk. Time to play. Time to be silly and have a giggle together. Time to be creative. To learn new skills, to discover, to wonder. 

Will we be able to enjoy and embrace every second? Nope. Will we take trips to the bathroom just for 5 minutes piece here and there? Absolutely! AND - that is ok! 

Now is a time to switch off. To relish as much as we can in the family time. A time to remember what's important in life. It's usually so fast paced. We crave to jump off the hamster wheel and just regain our thoughts for a moment. Now we have time to do this. 



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