It has been a very strange time and many children will feel some level of nervousness about returning to school.
There are some simple things to support them.
Mindfulness, Breathing and meditation
It is hard to think if your body is stressed and some children may hyperventilate or display physical systems. Use calming strategies like meditation, mindfulness or breathing exercises. Slowing your breathing can reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, anger and confusion.
There are some great apps to help with breathing and mindfulness. Please see link at bottom of page
Many children will, understandably, try to avoid the situation that is causing them stress. This might be refusing to attend, avoiding eye contact, not answering questions. Unfortunately avoiding the situation tends to increase anxiety.
So the most effective way to deal with social anxiety might be to face it. If you feel that your child may struggle it may worth spending time last couple of weeks of holiday to take them through the process.
Get your child to get up at school time
Use the normal route to school (bus/train etc)
Visit the school (you are very welcome to come sit on the bench at the front for a while
Talk through what they are worried about and why
Remind them that many children will have these worries
Counselling and Support
We do have some counselling and support available at Hartsdown. Please contact the school if you feel your child may benefit (contact Sharon Wills)
Altruism is vital for the human race to survive and thrive; and each of our lives is supported by countless kind acts from other people. Yet in our world today, so much is directing us to think only about ourselves – and we often forget the happiness that comes by caring for others. Action for Happiness wants to change that. This August Action for Happiness is asking everyone to take one kind act per day. Let’s create a wave of kindness to spread around the world.
COVID-19 has changed all our lives, causing disruption to our daily routines. Not going to school, to your usual clubs or activities and being away from friends can make you feel angry, stressed or anxious. Many young people are finding this time difficult.
There is no right or wrong way to feel. These may be new emotions or the current situation could be exaggerating feelings you already had before.
Talking to someone you trust is often the first step to feeling better. They might be a parent or carer, teacher or family relative or even a good friend. You may find that your friends feel the same way.
You can also talk to Kent Youth Health.
If you are aged between 11 and 19 you can text ChatHealth on 07520618850 for anonymous and confidential support for any emotional or physical health problem (Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm). Find out more at ChatHealth.
If you need urgent help outside those hours you can contact ChildLine on 0800 1111 or access their webchat .
If you are in immediate danger then please call 999.
You can also access the Children and Young People’s Counselling service. A youth counsellor will help you develop strategies to feel better. You can also use this service to speak to our bereavements counsellors if you have lost someone you were close to, to the Coronavirus. Text ChatHealth on 07520618850 and ask for counselling, call 0300 123 4496 or complete the online referral.
We also recommend Kooth, an excellent website for any young person in Kent, with online counselling. Kooth counsellors are available 12 – 10pm every day.
Moodsparks has been created by young people in Kent to help other young people develop their emotional resilience.
If you unsure of what help you need then you can call 0300 123 4496 and Kent Youth Health will work out how to support you. Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.
Children’s experiences will vary tremendously some will have enjoyed lockdown but most will have found it difficult and be traumatised to some degree.
Some children may have had to deal with:
Parent made redundant or furloughed
Parent works in the NHS
Family member is seriously ill
Not enough food to eat at home
Caring for younger siblings at home
Spot the issues
The age of the child will have a significant impact on how they display anxiety and other issues.
An older child suffering from anxiety.
Have angry outbursts
Have a lot of negative thoughts
Start avoiding everyday activities
A younger child may show:
Be irritable, angry, tearful or clingy – they might get angry or irritable quickly, and be out of control during outbursts
Be tired – due to difficulty sleeping, waking in the night, bad dreams or wetting the bed
Have difficulty eating – they might seem to lose their appetite, or eat very slowly
Be constantly worrying or having negative thoughts – they may find it hard to concentrate as a result
Be tense and fidgety – they might find it hard to sit still or ask to use the toilet more often than usual
Have physical symptoms – they might complain of tummy aches and feeling unwell
Some children may have experienced specific events that they found extremely frightening and dangerous, such as a family member being hospitalised suddenly. This sort of experience can trigger a traumatic stress reaction.
A child suffering from traumatic stress might:
Be unusually tired – from finding it hard to sleep or having bad dreams and nightmares
Become fearful – they might be clingy and anxious about being separated from their parents or teacher
Seem to regress in their behaviour – they might start bed-wetting and thumb-sucking again; or become irritable and disobedient
Seem preoccupied – they might be unable to concentrate or be preoccupied with thoughts and memories of the event, which they may or may not talk about
Have physical symptoms – such as headaches and tummy aches
Following a bereavement, a child might show any of the following responses:
Alternating between play and sadness – they may appear to be sad and withdrawn one moment, then start playing the next
Tiredness – they may seem exhausted or listless, and find it difficult to concentrate
Mood swings – they may suddenly become withdrawn, anxious or despondent
Regression and loss of skills – their academic progress may seem to deteriorate, they may develop a speech impairment or stutter, they may revert to “baby talk” or thumb-sucking
Anger and frustration – they may display aggressive behaviour
Lack of response, or denial – some newly bereaved children might not present any behaviour associated with grieving, or deny their grief altogether
What can you do to help?
Try to keep things as normal as possible encourage them to play and do their normal activities.
Encourage children to talk:
Create opportunities to talk within the day. Don’t force it: create opportunities where these conversations can occur naturally
Create safe spaces to talk, such as quiet spaces, many children find it easier to talk when sitting in the passenger seat in the car.
Label feelings and link them to body cues and behaviour – use phrases such as ‘I noticed …’, ‘I wonder if …’ and ‘Could this be …’ Sometimes children don’t know how they’re feeling, so by suggesting an emotion and linking it to a behaviour you’re helping them make sense of their emotional responses and giving them the opportunity to confirm or correct you
Allow for comfortable silences, show open body language and listen actively
Normalise what they’re feeling, and reassure them it’s ok to feel this way. Use examples from your own life to illustrate times when you have felt a certain emotion, how it felt and why
Acknowledge the child’s views/worries/pains and listen to what they say, e.g. “that sounds really difficult”, “is there anything I can do?”
Reassure the child that they are safe
Try to answer questions as honestly as possible, in an age-appropriate way. It’s ok to say that you don’t have all the answers
Ask questions rather than give advice, to help the child generate their own solutions or coping mechanisms
Use empathy, rather than sympathy
Let them know you’re grateful to them for opening up, e.g. “thank you for sharing that with me”
The Blob Tree can help
Print out and ask your child:
Which Blob do you feel like today?
Why do you feel like that?
Which Blob would you like to feel like?
What could we do to make you feel a little bit more like that blob?
A really helpful routine is to regularly ask children
What have you done today?
What is a positive thing that has happened
Anything to get off your chest?
Another is to get them to score themselves out of 10 of how they are feeling 10 being amazing and 1 being absolutely awful. Then ask how they could move up one point.
The UK’s medical model is about sickness not health and wellbeing. So instead of focussing on helping people to be brilliant we focus on making them less ill. Positive psychology is instead about helping people to be their best selves. To be brilliant.
You can help yourself and your children by using some of the methods. I will link to resources at the end.
Most people have a tendency to dwell on negative thoughts and feelings and this tends to make them a bigger issue. Mindfulness is about controlling and managing your thoughts and feelings. There are lots of ideas on line and YouTube is a great resource. Just search ‘mindfulness for children’.
Something I have found helpful is to ask children some questions about their worries.
Is this a problem that is actually happening or is it something that might happen
How big is this problem from 1 – 10, 1 being death and 10 being no problem at all
What do you think you will think about this in a week a month a year
What might make it a little bit better
One of the best ways to reduce the impact of negative feelings is a gratitude journal. This can be a simple book where children write or draw three things that they are grateful for. There are some lovely journals available via Amazon for example
Kooth Kooth is an online counselling service for young people and is funded by Kent County Council. Young people can access our service by logging on to www.kooth.com where they can speak privately to a BACP qualified counsellor through a text-based chat. ThinkNinja
ThinkNinja is an app specifically designed to educate 10-18 year olds about mental health, emotional wellbeing and to provide skills young people can use to build resilience and stay well. ThinkNinja is built on CBT principles, a psychological talking therapy based on the theory that our thoughts, feelings and our behaviour are all connected. CBT works to help us notice and change problematic thinking styles or behaviour patterns so we can feel better How ThinkNinja works? ThinkNinja® addresses a range of issues including stress, anxiety, low mood, or having unhelpful thoughts. All of which can be triggered by the pressures of modern life, such as exams, struggling to make friends or social situations. The user is coached by the WiseNinja, powered by artificial intelligence and the skills of a clinical psychologist. Why choose ThinkNinja? ThinkNinja® is free to download for all children and young people with the correct access code, and can be downloaded via the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
Download ThinkNinja with NEW COVID-19 content here:
Here at Hartsdown Academy we are committed to supporting the wellbeing of all are students. We are therefore delighted to inform you about a service to support the wellbeing and resilience of our students that is now available.
Kooth provides a safe, secure means of accessing help via the internet. By accessing Kooth students can benefit from:
A free, confidential, anonymous and safe way to receive support online.
Out of hours’ availability. Counsellors are available from 12noon to 10pm on weekdays and 6pm to 10 pm at weekends, every day of the year on a drop in basis.
Online Counselling from a professional team of BACP qualified counsellors is available via 1-1 chat sessions or messaging on a drop in basis or via booked sessions.
Discussion Boards which are all pre-moderated allow young people to access peer to peer support.
Online Magazine full of moderated articles many of which are submitted by young people offering advice and guidance on a huge range of topics.
No referral is required. Young people can register for kooth independently at www.kooth.com
What is ThinkNinja?
ThinkNinja is an app specifically designed to educate 10-18 year olds about mental health, emotional wellbeing and to provide skills young people can use to build resilience and stay well.
ThinkNinja is built on CBT principles, a psychological talking therapy based on the theory that our thoughts, feelings and our behaviour are all connected.
CBT works to help us notice and change problematic thinking styles or behaviour patterns so we can feel better
How ThinkNinja works?
ThinkNinja® addresses a range of issues including stress, anxiety, low mood, or having unhelpful thoughts. All of which can be triggered by the pressures of modern life, such as exams, struggling to make friends or social situations.
The user is coached by the WiseNinja, powered by artificial intelligence and the skills of a clinical psychologist.
Why choose ThinkNinja?
ThinkNinja® is free to download for all children and young people with the correct access code, and can be downloaded via the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
Download ThinkNinja with NEW COVID-19 content here: