Some parents are telling me about changes in their child's behaviour. This is completely understandable in this situation. We need to remember that our children are not GIVING us a hard time, they are HAVING a hard time, just like we are. Our grown up brains are able to process and rationalise. Not so easy for them.
Here are a few tips which might help:
- be understanding. Recognise that changes in behaviour such as tantrums or bed wetting may be the way your child reacts to frightening events. Sometimes children's behaviour goes backwards to a time when they felt more safe, so they might seem as though they are acting "babyish". It's their way of coping.
- give your child extra attention if you can, particularly at bedtime. Don't worry too much if they have slipped back into old habits. You will get back into routines again in the future. Right now it's all about them feeling safe. This isn't forever.
- children look to grown ups to understand a crisis and find ways to deal with it. They need you to be able to comfort and support them.
- talk about feelings. It's important for children to start to understand their feelings. They may not know why they are feeling a particular way, but all are natural. Try labelling feelings with them-"I can see that you feel angry/worried/scared, and that's ok" because these feelings ARE ok. And label your feelings too "I'm feeling angry/worried, so I'm going to read a book/count to 10/go for a walk" (you could also have a look on the "Keep Calm" star which is down near the bottom of the class pages page https://www.highfieldhall.derbyshire.sch.uk/keep-calm/ )
- give your child some sense of control,for example a choice of sandwich for dinner, a choice of what to wear. When children feel helpless they tend to experience more severe stress symptoms.
- try to keep a routine. I'm not talking about a strict home-school timetable,but just a sense of structure to the day. This helps children to feel secure. My day starts with a Netflix episode,then some exercise, and a dog walk. I then plan other activities, such as work,shopping and meals,into the day. This way I feel organised and secure. If your child knows what's coming next they feel safer.You could develop daily routines with them, giving them the choice of exercise and activities. Plan some "down time" too. I hear my neighbours,with young children, say "now it's quiet Ipad time". This provides a much needed break for them!
- use pictures to show your child what's coming next (drawn stick men pictures are fine!). Stick the pictures in the order that you are going to do the activities-use blu tack or sellotape and stick them where your child can see. To break the day down further you could "first, then" This is something we use in Nursery "first it's Welcome Time, then it's outside time" and stick the 2 pictures next to each other. There are no surprises-you're child knows what is happening.
- reward positive behaviour! Catch your child being good. "I love that you said thank you" "That was really kind" "You tried really hard at...and didn't give up" "Wow! You were really quiet whilst I was on the phone-well done!" Try as much as you can to ignore small misdemeanours! Look on the "rewards and motivation" star for ideas https://www.highfieldhall.derbyshire.sch.uk/reward-motivation-ideas/
- try to laugh,a lot. Laughter keeps fear and anxious feelings at bay.
- and finally-give yourself a break! And a pat on the back for a good day! You are doing a great job. And if it was a difficult day, be glad when it's over. Tomorrow we start afresh.
There are lots of ideas here https://inclusiveteach.com/2020/03/20/150-sensory-learning-ideas/
for sensory activities. Some children need a quiet, soothing activity to help them calm. Others need a more active activity which then helps them to calm afterwards. Try to plan these into your day. These will help to keep your child regulated and "on a level".