Well-being describes our feelings of wellness and happiness. When we have positive well-being we feel good, we can cope with difficulties, problem-solve and think clearly. We know we are struggling with our well-being when we find ourselves snapping at others, feeling stressed and low or unhappy. t is important that children are taught to be aware of their thoughts and take care of their own wellbeing. This is a valuable lesson for life and will help them to develop their emotional intelligence and to cope with stress or difficulties in their lives as they grow. The best way to take care of our well-being is to insert simple things into our day-to-day routines.
Below are five ideas to help support well-being:
1. Keep learning
Learn and develop new skills away from school. Mastering and improving new skills gives a sense of achievement. The feeling of success sends dopamine, and other hormones that enhance wellbeing, to our brain and makes us feel good.
It is important to teach children that failure is a stepping stone to success, and that even the greatest minds have failed hundreds of times!
2. Take notice
Being tuned in to day-to-day feelings and noticing negative thoughts helps children be more self-aware and in control. It is very overwhelming when we have loads of difficult emotions and no way of processing them. Keeping a feelings journal can help change a `I can`t` attitude to an, ` I can if I keep trying` one.
When we help others, our feeling of wellbeing increases. It is really rewarding when we see that our actions have had a positive impact on others and it makes us feel great inside.
One of the quickest ways to feeling good is exercise! Getting the blood flowing through your body and your heart rate going releases feel-good hormones. Children can stay active by getting out in nature for an hour each weekend. Make this fun and interesting by going on adventures. Can you find a forest to visit? Or get your wellies on and find a stream? Or if you’re brave you could walk up a hill in the countryside. If you're in a city, is there an adventure playground nearby or interesting walking routes that take you along pathways that buses and cars don't take?
One of things that made lockdown so difficult was being unable to spend time with others. Being around our friends and family and sharing eye contact, laughter and talking is vital for wellbeing. Humans are social creatures and connection makes us feel loved, valued, heard and therefore happy. Face-to-face connection is very powerful and can often be undervalued in a world of technology.
That said, technology does offer many opportunities for social interaction. There are many free digital platforms which children can access on phones, tablets or laptops which will allow them to connect with their friends and play games remotely.
Useful websites for adults
Vita Minds are new NHS providers within the IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Services) community commissioned by Derby and Derbyshire CCG.
The service is now live and offers a range of talking therapies for depression, generalised anxiety disorder, mixed depression and anxiety and a range of other conditions - the full list is on their general information leaflet HERE.
People can refer themselves directly into the service either by calling 0333 0153 496 or by visiting the website and using the self-referral form HERE.
A book for children about coronavirus that aims to give information without fear.
With everything that is going on at the moment; big changes to children’s routines and lots of stories on the news it can be a really scary time for children.
This book aims to open up the conversation about coronavirus and some of the things they might be hearing about it and provide truthful information in a reassuring and child friendly manner.
Government advice for parents and carers
Young Minds support for parents and carers during the Coronavirus Pandemic
SCARF are also offering advice and support for parents on ‘keeping children safe and happy during school closures
Useful websites for children
CAMHS -This site was created for young people, carers and professionals to pool together lots of helpful resources from across the internet that are available to help support your mental health and well-being. The main site (https://www.camhs-resources.co.uk/) offers lots of resources about a wide range of mental health issues. They also have a dedicated coronavirus section too (https://www.camhs-resources.co.uk/coronavirus)
Lucy's in Lockdown is a free book designed to help you realise you're not alone in the current conditions with Covid-19, to help you understand it's temporary and to help you express how you're feeling. Click on the picture for the link. Ask your grown up to read it with you.
As part of our PSHE curriculum, the children are familiar with Harold the giraffe who helps teach them about spiritual, moral, social and cultural aspects of life.
Harold – the happy, healthy giraffe mascot is a favourite with children – and will be posting a daily blog: Harold’s Daily Diary! Here’s the link to it:
Each day he’ll be giving children positive, fun messages about what he’s doing to stay happy and healthy while he’s off school, separated from his friends. He’ll invite the children to join in with activities he’s doing.
He’ll be giving children ideas for how he – and they – can get a routine going for their day, including the things we all need to do to live a balanced, healthy life. These include:
· Taking regular exercise
· Being creative
· Helping others
· Connecting with others – in ways that are safe
· Mindfulness – learning to enjoy the moment, here and now.
Peace out -via Bedtime FM
Short stories that help children calm down and relax by guiding them through visualisation and breathing exercises. Perfect for parents or teachers who want to teach mindfulness and self-regulation.
New story released every fortnight. Click on the image below.
Activities for a healthy mind
This is a place where your child can drop in their worries at any time, they need to have access to it in the home, and then at the end of the week (or perhaps the end of the day at the moment), you take some time to address the worries they might have. This is also very helpful for children who struggle with more obsessive worries. If you explain to the child that once they have placed the worry inside the box or book they don’t have to think about it until the time when you talk about it, it can help them reduce the frequency of their worries. It can also help if you give them the chance to decorate the worry book or worry box whilst you explain its purpose!
Mindfulness and meditation
Meditation always sounds like it should be for adults, but it is very helpful for children too. If you are already thinking “There’s no way I can get my child to sit still for two minutes!” – Don’t worry. This type of meditation/mindfulness is not necessarily about physical stillness but rather mental relaxation. It is about giving your child time and space to relax in their mind, which if they are experiencing worry and anxiety, will be a very noisy place. For a child, mindfulness can be the quiet that comes over them when they are being read a bedtime story - even gaming can be good for mindfulness!
Exercise and chores
Your children might already be feeling the impact of less exercise already with community groups closing their doors. Exercise is very important for your child’s mental wellbeing as it gives them a serotonin boost and gives them a way to expend excess adrenaline which can cause anxiety. So how do we find ways to exercise with children during self-isolation? You might have to get imaginative with it. Try exercise videos online that you can do together, or a good old fashioned run around in the garden or a kick about with the football. Take your child out for a daily walk (unless advised otherwise by the government). If you find yourself stuck inside, you might consider using chores as exercise! Everyone knows nothing gets your heart pumping like a good bathroom scrub! it’s also important for children to have some structure in their day. A period of time doing something “boring” will only make the periods when they can do what they want more fun. It’s also a good way for you to give rewards for a good job done, and encourage your children to be more active!
Jar of Joy
One of the hardest things about self-isolation for children can be boredom. After four days inside, even the Xbox can become boring! As we know, a bored child can be prone to anxious thoughts, bad behaviour, and low mood. Sometimes, however, a child just doesn’t know what to do with themselves and even your suggestions of their favourite activities are deemed “soooo boring!” The great thing about the jar of joy is that it brings an element of surprise and variation into the day. At the start of isolation,or at any point, get your child to write down different activities that they enjoy (inside and outside, but maybe limit them to your own garden). They can be as time-consuming as watching a movie, or as little as playing with a pet. Then, put all the activities in the jar. When your child cries boredom and you need to distract them, pull out the jar!