Now in our third lockdown, we’ve all heard in the media about the importance of mental health, which is just as important for nursery children under the age of 5. In this article, we hope to give you a few tips on how to ensure you stay on top of your children’s mental wellbeing.
Young children will find this time very challenging and unusual, missing out on playdates with their friends, not seeing grandparents and other close family, or not going out for trips to their favourite petting farm.
Whilst government restrictions allow, we are delighted to support parents by keeping Kids Play Childcare Nurseries open. This article will be particularly useful to those whose children are missing nursery as they are shielding or self-isolating.
During lockdown you may find that your young child’s behaviour is a little more challenging than usual. Children will often express themselves through their behaviour.
During these uncertain times it will be common for your child to feel sad, angry or frustrated. To overcome this as best as possible be sure to keep the lines of communication open between you and your child.
Explain to your child what the virus is and answer any questions they may have, be sure to be as open as possible, depending on how comfortable you are. If your child is struggling to communicate their emotions, you could try and use flash cards, with different emotions, so that they can point to how they are feeling.
You may even find stories online that will help to explain the current pandemic with illustrations, children may find this an easier way to learn about the virus and understand the situation.
You may need to change your routine for lockdown, however, young children like routines to understand what is approximately going to happen when.
Try to schedule regular times for waking up, having breakfast, doing an activity, going for a walk or doing exercise inside, having lunch and dinner, as well as having bathtime and going to bed. This should help to keep your child comfortable and happy knowing what comes next.
You may even like to build the routine into an activity by drawing a fun-coloured timetable to put up on your child’s wall.
Build activities around what interests them
Children engage best when activities surround a subject, that they are interested in. This is what our staff caring for your children do at our Nurseries in MK and Bury St Edmunds, but it can still be done at home.
Why not get your child’s senses working by finding a video on YouTube on how to make playdough, make it step by step together! You will be amazed at how you can make it exciting for them, try adding everyday things such as spices or herbs to bring colour and smell.
Another example could be that your child has a favourite book about a Dinosaur, take that learning a step further and paint dino footprints or set up a dinosaur fossil activity using dinosaur toys and sand.
Alternatively, you may wish to get your child outdoors more during lockdown. If they have an interest in forest schools (as they do forest school activities at our Pre-Schools), you could go and explore outdoors and do a bug hunt.
Set aside time together
Our day nurseries want to remain open to support parents, however, if you are isolating or shielding, being at home juggling work and providing childcare can be extremely challenging.
Children crave attention from parents and if they feel they are not getting enough, you’ll start to see a shift in their behaviour. You should set time to do activities together to reassure them that whilst other things are changing you are there for them.
Activities can vary hugely from arts and crafts, pretending to be their favourite superhero to even getting outdoors for a bug hunt. The important aspect is that you are doing things together.
Connecting with loved ones … even if not in person
We know grandparents, close family and friends will miss your child, but your child will also miss these special adults in their lives.
Make sure you video call regularly with them so they can see their face and try to incorporate these people into activities. For example, could they create a picture for Granny, or even draw Auntie Sue on the next day out you have after lockdown.
Maybe even take some time out to look through photographs and reminisce over the special memories that you created with those loved ones.
Keep them active
Not only does exercise help keep children’s minds active, but it also ensures by bedtime, they are feeling tired and ready to go to sleep.
We have provided some potential ideas for indoor or outside activities.
Exercise indoors can vary from yoga and exercise classes to dancing to music. Each child will have their interests and what they enjoy doing, try and build their exercise around this.
Outdoors with all leisure closed, you are restricted to parks and walks. Encouraging young children, however, to walk is sometime a little challenging. To make a walk fun, perhaps go hunting for the perfect stick (you’ll be amazed and how many objects a stick can become) or allow them to take a toy with them such as football. We would suggest you rotate between a few different local destinations to help keep it varied.
Hopefully this short article with advice and tips on managing your child’s mental wellbeing will be informative and give you a few new ideas. We have been through one of the most challenging periods of all our lives and look forward to better times ahead.
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