Discuss This with Darren

Maintaining kids’ mental health during the coronavirus pandemic

While there are concerns about the negative impact physical isolation is having on children’s learning, we should also be concerned about their mental health. Any anxiety and fear they experience is heightened by isolation from friends, lack of access to their usual sports and leisure activities and a lack of certainty about the future.

In these challenging times kids’ mental health needs to be a high priority. The following plan laid out by the experts at Parenting Ideas will give you some tools to lay a solid foundation for good mental health, and outline key behaviours that will help build the resilience and psychological strength that kids need in these difficult times. Today I will just give a quick outline of key points and next time go into some more depth.

If there is anything specific you think you may need support with please give me or one of the other wellbeing staff a call.

Building Blocks for good physical health

  • A healthy diet,
  • plenty of exercise and
  • good sleep patterns

These are basic to good physical and mental health. Get the foundations right and you establish optimum conditions for your child to flourish even in difficult circumstances.

A framework for healthy eating includes eating real rather than processed foods, consuming small and regular meals, starting each day with protein and complex carbs, drinking plenty of water and keeping kids away from caffeinated drinks.

A framework for exercise includes starting the day with some movement, taking regular movement and game breaks, finishing the school day with movement that gets their limbs moving and hearts pumping.

A framework for good sleep patterns includes finding an optimum bedtime; creating a regular, relaxing routine, eating and exercising at the right time, creating a sleep sanctuary and getting up at regular times each day.

Add the pillars of good mental health

Mental health is complex and is impacted by many factors including a child’s social and emotional wellbeing. The following four pillars have an shielding effect on your child’s mental health, acting as ‘circuit-breakers’ when life becomes difficult and complex.

  • Maintain social connection
  • Stay in the present
  • Enjoy yourself at play
  • Spend time in nature

A framework for social connection includes one-on-one time with family members and other loved ones, having shared family experiences to confirm a sense of belonging, having shared time and experiences with peers from school and the neighbourhood, and a connection with the broader community through shared experience, cause or goal.

A mindfulness framework includes regular mindfulness exercises, doing one thing at a time, using mindfulness during an anxious moment, practising self-kindness and forgiveness.

A play framework includes space and time for play, child-initiated activities, a mix of lone play and group activity, some social or physical risk may be involved.

A time in nature framework includes management and reduction of screen time, exposure to natural environments in the neighbourhood, bringing the outdoors inside, and spending some time each day outdoors.

Hope this helps a bit. We will unpack things further next time.

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay well, stay connected.