Being a child in today’s society can be very stressful. Not only do they have to deal with puberty and the normal stresses of childhood, but also the added strains of technology, social media and higher academic expectations.
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It might be a good idea to have a look at your child’s stress levels. Stress can be debilitating and might be manifested in a wide range of symptoms. Stress symptoms can affect your child’s body, thoughts, feelings and behaviour.
- Tummy ache, upset tummy
- Exhaustion / low energy levels
- Aches and pains
- Sore muscles
- Lowered immune system / frequent colds or infections
- Altered sleeping patterns/insomnia
- Being overly emotional
However, these are some great strategies to implement to guard against these.
- Get out there, in nature if possible.
- Go for a walk, take your bicycle, but get out there and get your blood flowing.
- Good eating habits. Have a look at this very interesting blog regarding this. How to stay healthy during exams
- Consider supplements like Magnesium, Iron and Vit D3
- Spend time away from screens
- Spend time with family and friends
- Get enough sleep
- Last, but not least LAUGH!
Coronavirus: addressing anxiety in young people
Coronavirus: addressing anxiety in young people
Share these tools and steps with young people
As well as the concerns we’re all feeling right now, older pupils are likely to also be worried about their exams and life after school.
Reassure them that more guidance will come and tell them you’ll share any news with them as soon as you have it.
In the meantime, equip them with the resources below Encourage them to put these steps into practice:
- YoungMinds: practical steps to take if you’re anxious about coronavirus
- Mind: how to take care of your wellbeing if you need to self-isolate
These resources can help to dispel myths:
- Mythbusters from the World Health Organization
- Data visualisation pack from Information is Beautiful (regularly updated)
Plus, you should find that some of the tips in the section above also work well when talking about the virus with older pupils.
- Talking about coronavirus – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Talking with children about Coronavirus Disease 2019: Messages for parents, school staff, and others working with children.
- How to talk about scary world news – Mental Health Foundation
Deal with the news head-on and talk about it openly and calmly, giving them the facts
- Give them age-appropriate information – take a look at:
o BBC Newsround hub – regularly updated with information and advice
o #covibook – for under 7s
- Educate them about reliable sources of information and how some stories on social media may be based on rumours or inaccurate information
- Encourage them to take breaks from listening to or reading the news – overexposure isn’t helpful
- This will give young people the confidence to reach out and ask, if they have anything to ask
- Use comforting tones and be honest when answering questions – it’s ok if you don’t have all the answers
- Allow for repetition – young people tend to repeat themselves when they’re feeling uncertain or worried, so you may have to answer the same questions more than once as they seek extra reassurance
Be a role model
- Recognise and manage your own worries first
- Be open about sharing this – e.g. I’m also finding the news a bit worrying, so I’m doing X which makes me feel calm
Let them know it’s normal to be concerned
- If needed, reassure them that the effects of this virus on healthy young people are usually mild
Promote awareness of our body’s immune system
- Explain that we’re taking precautions because the virus is a new one which our immune system hasn’t developed resistance against.
- Remind them of the benefits of healthy eating, sleep and exercise – which help to boost our immune system.
Be aware of children with higher levels of anxiety (e.g. those with existing phobias or obsessive-compulsive disorders)
- Get them to do activities such as sorting tasks which can help with heightened levels of anxiety
- Encourage them to use relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing
- Detect any obsessive or compulsive behaviours early and intervene before they become entrenched patterns of thinking. Do this by challenging unhelpful thoughts and assumptions. Frame worries as situation-specific by relating them to the current situation, which is temporary and unusual
Keep doing your bit to help young people reduce the spread of germs
- remind young people to wash their hands
- Encourage them to sing ‘happy birthday’ twice when they’re washing their hands
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Firstly, How stressed is your child?