Coronavirus resources for children and families
Helping children and young people cope with the information and changes related to the Coronavirus can be a huge challenge. From social distancing and quarantine to school closures and increased awareness of infection and hygiene – there is a lot to process for children and families.
We have put together some frequently asked questions, resources and links that you and you family may find helpful at this time.
- Talking to your child about coronavirus
Your child may understandably be concerned or worried by what they see, read or hear in the news or online regarding coronavirus (covid-19). As a parent or carer, it’s good to talk to them honestly but calmly about what is happening, and to not ignore or shield them from what is going on in the world. Children look to adults in their life for comfort when they are distressed, and will take a lead on how to view things from you. Remember, you don’t have to have all the answers, but it is better to have a gentle conversation to reassure your child that they can talk to you so they don’t feel like they’re on their own.
- The experts at YoungMinds have put together a list of top 10 tips for talking to a child or young person about coronavirus.
- The British Psychological Society have also produced some comprehensive advice about talking to children of different ages about illness.
- Children who have already experienced a bereavement may be especially sensitive at this time. Winston's Wish is a charity which supports bereaved children and young people. Their website offers some useful advice on how to reassure bereaved children at this time. It also has details of their helpline and the support they can offer.
- For younger children why not try using some of the story books or videos we have suggested in the 'Resources for children and young people' section below.
- How can I support my child's mental health and wellbeing?
The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is going to affect everyone’s daily lives, as the government and the NHS take necessary steps to manage the outbreak, reduce transmission and treat those who need medical attention.
Regardless of their age, this may be a difficult time for children and young people. Some may react right away, while others may show signs of difficulty later on.
How a child or young person reacts can vary according to their age, how they understand information and communicate, their previous experiences, and how they typically cope with stress. Negative reactions may include worrying thoughts about their health or that of family and friends, fear, avoidance, problems sleeping, or physical symptoms such as stomach ache.
During this time, it’s important that you take care of your family’s mental health – there are lots of things you can do, and support is available if you need it.
The Government have produced some guidance on how you can support your family's mental health. Topics include:
- Helping children and young people cope with stress
- How children of different ages may react
- Children or young people who are accessing mental health services
- Children or young people with learning disabilities
- Autistic children and young people
- Children or young people with physical health issues
- Children or young people who care for others
- Money worries
- Support for parents and carers
The Anna Freud Centre for Children and Families is a national mental health charity. They also have some great resources for supporting children and young people through this time.
- Supporting children with learning disability/ASD
The next few weeks (and possibly months) will be a particularly difficult time for children and families, whilst schools are closed and we are advised to self-isolate or socially distance ourselves from our friends and family. Our normal structure and routine will be out of the window.
This information pack, created by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, aims to support parents of children with an ASD or LD during this tricky time and hopefully make things a little more manageable.
- Are there any free educational resources we can access whilst schools are shut?
The Department of Education put together a list of free online educational resources to help children to learn at home.
These websites have been identified by some of the country’s leading educational experts and offer a wide range of support and resources for pupils of all ages.
You can use them to supplement any work set by your child's school or just for fun. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself or your child during this time though, no-one is expecting you to replace their teacher(s).
- We're bored, what can we do at home?
There are lots of things you can try, use the list below to give you some inspiration.
- Clear out your wardrobe or cupboards
- Give yourself a manicure/pedicure
- Read/write a book
- Do a crossword/Sudoku/word search/colouring in
- Binge watch a must-see boxset/film series or old feel good movie
- Make a photo album of phone photos- websites/apps like Snapfish and Freeprint will send you up to 50 photos for free (you just pay for postage)
- Gardening- mow the lawn, plant some flowers
- Start a blog
- Learn a new recipe
- Learn how to knit/crochet
- Have a dance
- Exercise- home workouts, YouTube videos (Bodycoach TV), yoga
- Make a travel bucket list
- Learn a language- websites/apps like Duolingo and Babbel offer some languages for free
- Do some DIY- redecorate a room, fix something
- Call a friend or family member- video calls (Skype, Whatsapp, Facetime)
- Play a game- card games, board games, computer games or design your own!
- Learn to play an instrument
- Bird watch, create a bird feeder (www.rspb.org.uk/fun-and-learning/for-kids/games-and-activities/activities/make-a-recycled-bird-feeder)
- Make jams or preserve
- Have a home picnic
- Learn to give yourself/someone else a massage
- Have a digital detox- clear you email inbox, delete old files, update your passwords
- Sort through paperwork
- Research a topic of interest
- Do a jigsaw puzzle
- Sort through photos on your phone
- Learn a magic trick
- Listen to a podcast, radio show or audiobook- websites/apps like www.digitalbook.io and https://librivox.org have free public domain audio books
- Arts and crafts (www.favecrafts.com/Gifts/22-Easy-Craft-Projects-For-Adults)
- Enter a competition
- Creating a home spa- bubble bath, face masks, foot spa (www.realbuzz.com/articles-interests/health/article/10-at-home-spa-treatments)
- Listen to music
- Sign up to a free online class/course- try places like www.reed.co.uk/courses/free and https://www.futurelearn.com/courses
- Create a time capsule
- Design a magazine or newspaper
- Online shopping
- Spending time with pets- teach them a new trick?
- Try a science experiment (www.iflscience.com/chemistry/unfinished-20-fun-science-experiments-you-can-do-home/)
- Look through old photographs/home movies
- Write a letter to a family member/friend that you can send once your well
- Take a virtual tour of a museum (www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours)
- Find things to donate to charity (once it’s safe to visit)
- Create your own cinema- make tickets, popcorn, lay down a rug
- Catch up with life admin- check insurance quotes, change your energy provider
- Clear out your wardrobe or cupboards
Resources for children and young people
These wonderful books explain the coronavirus in a child friendly way. They are designed to be read with a parent or carer and can help to ease any worries or fears children may have surrounding the virus or the sudden changes to their lives.
A video to explain social distancing to young children
Other useful resources to download
Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust have produced some fabulous resources for children, young people and families, like the Self Care Kit above. Other highlights include:
- Supporting your child with additional needs
- A range of easy communication boards and social stories using Widgit symbols
- Healthy minds advice for parents and carers
- Exercise and activity ideas from their Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy team
Helplines and websites for children and young people
If your child or young person would like to speak to someone anonymously, they could try calling a helpline or visiting websites such as ChildLine and The Mix.
Shout provides free, confidential support, 24/7 via text for anyone at crisis anytime, anywhere.
- text SHOUT to 85258 in the UK to text with a trained Crisis Volunteer
- text with someone who is trained and will provide active listening and collaborative problem-solving
ChildLine provides a confidential telephone counselling service for any child with a problem. It comforts, advises and protects.
The Mix provides a free confidential telephone helpline and online service that aims to find young people the best help, whatever the problem.