It’s been a confusing few weeks for our little people. While kids are adaptable and mostly happy to enjoy some extra family time, the sudden change of routine, the new rules around handwashing and social distancing and even the fact that they’re not allowed into a locked playground while out for a walk can throw them.
Bubble’s teaching advisor Sarah Zeqiri is at home with her three children, Ella, 16, Dexter, 10, and two-year-old Mabel. Here she offers these brilliant tips for keeping children happy during lockdown, helping them process their emotions… and staving off the dreaded cry of, “I’m booooooooored!”
Healthy and Happy at Home
While our key worker superstars are out doing their bit, it’s up to most of us to stay at home and do ours, but being stuck inside can make kiddies feel cooped up and tetchy. How can we keep ourselves and our lockdown-lovelies happy inside and out? Keeping physically and mentally happy in lockdown might be easier than you think, and there are learning opportunities to be found everywhere!
Current guidelines say that we are all allowed outside for exercise once a day with members of our own household, so take the chance to get a bit of Vitamin D, or at least some fresh air. Go for a walk in a park and look for different signs of springtime; visit a pond and look for tadpoles; or go to the woods and climb trees. This is great for any budding geographer or scientist! Just remember to keep at a sensible 2 metres away from other people making use of the same spots.
If you can’t travel, go out in the garden together and do something active or messy. Little ones might love the opportunity to colour the patio in with chalks, wash the bikes with some soapy sponges or get green by planting some flowers or veggies.
Being outside doesn’t only make a good change of scenery but the fresh air and exposure to daylight is proven to help children sleep better. Always a bonus!
Sing Your Heart Out
It has been scientifically proven that singing releases both endorphins (the pleasure hormone) and oxytocin (the ‘cuddle’ hormone), which collectively reduces stress and anxiety. So if you and your miniatures are having a rough day and feeling the weight of the world, whack on the radio. Show the kids that you still remember all the words to Waterfalls by TLC, try to sing all the high bits in Bohemian Rhapsody or whip you hair back and forth to a bit of Willow Smith (if that last part made zero sense to you, then please look it up. It is equal parts terrible and wonderful and I love it). If you’re feeling fancy, get the kids into the media spirit and direct their own music video to send it to Grandma!
‘You feel what you feel, and those feelings are real’ – Sven, Frozen 2
We are all going to feel a bit low at some points, including our kids, but it’s what we do about it that matters. While the news is a great source of information, it also reminds us that we’re in the middle of something rather big and incomprehensible. Try turning the news off for a while (and maybe social media too) and give your very busy brain a well needed break.
L.R. Knost writes that ‘When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it’s our job to share our calm, not join the chaos’, as kids often hide anxiety behind irritability, anger or clinginess. Regardless of age, they will know something is going on and that their daily routine is suddenly very different. It can be a good time educate your child about emotions, to talk honestly about feelings and providing some validity to what they are experiencing.
‘I understand. Daddy feels sad that we can’t see our friends too.’
‘You’re right. It’s not fair that we had to cancel the party.’
Spend time together, snuggle up and get some of that good old oxytocin flowing!
For more information on supporting the wellbeing of children and young people, visit the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families.