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How are you coping with the lockdown? Are you climbing the walls and struggling with how to home-educate and entertain the children? Many adults have adapted to the current situation by investing more time in learning new things, adopting lockdown fitness regimes, and going for daily walks. But what about the children? How are they finding it all?

Children could be negatively affected for up to NINE years

According to research carried out by Dr Maria Loades in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath and published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, children and young people are likely to suffer depression and anxiety for many years once the lockdown has been lifted.

Dr Loades and her team analysed the findings from a wide range of studies that have already been peer reviewed and published. They looked at more than 60 previous studies into the effects of things like isolation and loneliness on the mental health of young people aged between four and 21.

The longer the lockdown, the stronger the impact

Their conclusions are disturbing for anyone concerned for the welfare of our children and especially for those looking after only children during the lockdown. The research team at the University of Bath believe that young people who have experienced loneliness and isolation during this lockdown period might be up to three times more likely to develop depression in the future.

According to Dr Loades and her team, the length of time that children are locked down has a much more significant long-term effect than the intensity of it. So, even for children who are locked down with loving parents and siblings, the fact that they’ve been locked down for almost three months should be a cause for concern.

If adults are feeling down and uncertain, how must the children be feeling?

Think about it. You only have to log on to social media, turn on the news or watch a discussion show to see the topic of the day is Covid, Covid and more Covid:

“The lockdown’s too severe.”

“It hasn’t gone far enough.”

“Covid’s going to kill us all.”

“It’s all part of a conspiracy.”

“When will this lockdown end, so we can all get back to normal?”

“This is a load of rubbish, and I’m not letting them frighten me.”

And these are just some of the kind of statements we read and hear in the media. What about the discussions at home? How many times have the children been told why they can’t play outside unsupervised or why they are not allowed back at school yet?

Don’t forget that whatever emotions we are all going through, our children are feeling it from us while they are having to deal with their own thoughts and emotions. So, even if you have been a true home-schooling master and you’ve been doing everything you can to make sure the children are not bored, they will still be feeling what you are going through.

Remember when the summer holidays felt like a lifetime?

Time flies by at an increasingly rapid rate as we get older, driven by the next deadline, the next day at the office, and the next task in the diary. Do you remember how the summer holidays used to feel for us as children? Those six weeks could feel like half a year, and by the time we went back to school, we were hungry for it. Some of us are feeling like that now!

Imagine how this time has passed for today’s children.

Are your children returning to school this week?

It is clear from the findings of the review team at the University of Bath that children need to be carefully eased back to school as soon as possible. However, understandably some parents will not feel comfortable sending their children to school until further medical advances have been made—more widespread, easier testing and better treatments for the virus, for example.

According to Professor Prathiba Chisabesan, NHS England’s associate national clinical director for children and young people’s mental health, the phased return to school may cause anxiety to pupils who are going back to class as well as to those children who have to stay at home feeling isolated or left out.

It seems that we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

Schools need the right resources to help children through the transition

In an open letter to the UK’s education secretary, Gavin Williamson, the review team who carried out the latest research have advised that schools should be given clear guidelines and appropriate resources to enable them to support children’s emotional needs during the transition period as schools reopen.

The minister for mental health, Nadine Dorries, has echoed this sentiment, stating that “it’s vital we continue to give them the support they need to maintain their mental health and well-being and deal with any feelings of uncertainty or worry they may be experiencing”.

 

This is a time for resilience for all of us

We all need a double dose of resilience during these challenging times, but the children need it far more than we do. Covid, the lockdown and uncertainty are affecting them far more than most of us probably realise, and the impact for them will be far greater.

Those who know my story know how I was impacted by childhood trauma—raised in poverty by an often drunk and violent father after my mother was murdered by a serial killer when I was just five years old. It took many years of stumbling from one disaster to another and even a stint in prison before I realised how deeply I had been impacted by my childhood, so I find it easy to believe that today’s children could be affected for up to nine years.

These days, as well as being an international speaker and speaker coach, I specialise in resilience training, and I have delivered a variety of Resilient sessions and workshops to a wide range of professionals including frontline staff in the NHS.

 

Children need resilience more than anyone

I am proud of the work that I do in helping adults to be better equipped to deal with the turbulence of life and to bounce back from adversity. But now, more than ever, we need to focus on helping our children get through this situation and minimising the impact on their futures.

That is why I am reaching out to schools to offer my expertise and experience in helping to support these children during the transition. As somebody who knows all too well what it is like to experience childhood trauma and having delivered inspirational talks to children of all ages, I know I can give today’s schoolchildren the tools they need to adjust and bounce back.

 

iCan offer the resources your school needs

If you are looking for ways to improve the mental health and well-being of pupils returning to your school, I can engage directly with children to improve their resilience or work with your teachers to better equip them to support pupils.

Get in touch with me today to discuss the next step. richard@richardmccann.co.uk

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