Mental Health Awareness Week: Easing children’s worries and fears after lockdown

Child and family mindful emotion coach Jodie Smart.

Child and family mindful emotion coach Jodie Smart. - Credit: Jodie Smart

As lockdown restrictions are gradually eased, many parents are looking forward to getting their children back into their old routines, enjoying the activities they have been waiting to do for so long and meeting up with all their friends and family that they have missed.

For some children, particularly younger ones, easing out of lockdown brings with it lots of mixed feelings. They have become used to the routine of being at home and constantly around their parents, and after months of being reminded not to touch anything or get too close to anyone because of “the germs", it’s understandable that they might now be feeling a little confused and unsure.

Sunny Kids Shine.

Sunny Kids Shine. - Credit: Sunny Kids Shine.

Here’s some ways that you can support your children to slowly ease back:

Talk to them about how they are feeling

Create a safe space so children can come and talk to you if they feel worried, scared or even excited about anything at all. Remind them that it's OK to feel every feeling and that there will be many children experiencing the same.

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Don't be afraid to share your own feelings, in an age-appropriate way and use this as an opportunity to reassure them - role modelling coping strategies that they can use, to help manage their feelings in healthy ways.

Get curious

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Support your children to become a thoughts and feelings detective and spot all the clues surrounding their worries and fears – working together to find out what’s really going on inside.

Avoid avoidance

When our children feel afraid of something, our natural reaction is to try to avoid the trigger, rather than facing it.

Unfortunately, this only reaffirms to our children that they should be fearing whatever it is that they feel scared of, making the feeling bigger. Instead, I suggest taking the worry or fear and seeing how you can break it down into smaller more tangible steps making it feel less scary and overwhelming.

Prepare children for change through more than just words

Change can be difficult for any of us. As adults we have so many different experiences, that when we think of change, we can visualise what the new experience might look like.

Children do not have this level of understanding, communication or past experience to be able to comprehend even the slightest change, which is why even something small like offering the blue cup instead of their usual pink cup can turn a small child's world upside down.

They will understandably feel overwhelmed, so if you can imagine this feeling, teamed with the lack of ability to understand or communicate their thoughts and feelings, you can begin to understand how scary the experience must be.

If we prepare children through images, objects and sight - rather than just words they will have a deeper understanding of what is going to happen. This will help them to feel better prepared and they will cope much better when the time of change comes.

Don’t put pressure on yourself or your child

The transition back to ”normal” may take some time and it is perfectly natural for both children and parents/carers to experience some ups and downs along the way. Try your best to support, reassure and comfort your children and go through the motions together. Try to keep new experiences short and positive. Set your children up to succeed, celebrate the process, every small win and always work at their pace.

Seek support if you need it

We all feel worried, tense or fearful sometimes. These are normal responses to certain situations. However, these feelings can become a mental health problem for your child if it impacts their ability to live their life fully.

If your child is struggling with any of their BIG feelings, please get in touch and book a FREE initial consultation with - email

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