It is natural during this time that we may all feel a range of emotions, such as stress, worry, anxiety, boredom, or low mood. Coming in and out of lockdown over the last year has been difficult, and this can impact our mental and emotional wellbeing. By now, many people are also feeling distressed by the constant news and overwhelming amount of information about the pandemic.
Kids will express their feelings not only through words but also through their expressions, actions and their behaviour. Sometimes they may act out their feelings in physical, inappropriate or problematic ways. Keep in mind that behind every behaviour is a feeling.
Tips for your child’s mental and emotional wellbeing
Schedule emotional check-ins. During times of change and stress it is a good idea to check-in with your kids and see how they are coping each day. You could try having days of the week on the fridge and getting the kids to draw an emoji for how they are feeling. This is good way to monitor them over time.
Help kids to name their feelings – The process of identifying and naming an emotion can help the brain to calm down. Learning to identify and express emotions helps them to develop the skills they need to manage emotions.
Explore emotions – Read stories or watch videos or TV shows and discuss the characters emotions. Talk about how what they might be feeling and how they respond to these emotions.
Practise gratitude – Take time to chat with your kids each day, or before bed and encourage them to reflect on what they’re grateful for or what went well today. Doing this regularly has been proven in research to increase happiness and foster both physical and mental health. So make sure you do it too.
Make sure kids get ample sleep. Don’t let being at home disrupt their sleep patterns. Primary school kids need 10-12 hours per day. Try to keep clear and consistent routines including no screen time one hour before bed, a ‘wind-down’ routine before bed, such as quiet reading or story time before lights out.
Tips for your own mental and emotional wellbeing
Structure is key. It is easy to get into a trap of letting each day merge into the next. This is not healthy. Create a good routine, wake up at your normal time and get ready for the day.
Keep fit. Yes, we’re suggesting a walk. I’m sure by now you’ve been on one too many, but it’s fantastic to help clear the mind and get your daily steps in, before or after work, or both. Organise to go on one by yourself in the morning and take the kids with you in the afternoon. If you live with your partner, take turns going out by yourself, together, and with the kids.
Time outside. Getting some Vitamin D is really important, and a lack can contribute to low mood. Take time to go outside, walk around the block or just around the garden
Keep connected. Being at home with family more is great, but it can also feel a bit overwhelming at times. These are difficult times and it’s often easy to shut yourself off from your mates, but we encourage you to check in with them as well as your family.
Find time for yourself. To ensure your own mental and emotional wellbeing, it’s important to take time out for yourself. Try going for an early morning walk. If you can, organise with your partner to each take ‘me-time’.
Mindset is really important. Whilst you cannot control the circumstances, you can control how you react to them. Try to focus on the positives and reflect this attitude to your family.
If you are struggling, please access support and call Lifeline on 131 114, or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.
If children are struggling, they can call Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800 or Youth Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636