Support children's mental health returning to school through COVID

Coronavirus and going back to school 

COVID-19 caused big changes in the lives of children and young people. While some may have adapted well, lots will have struggled with the challenges, and may have faced problems with difficult feelings, anxiety or low mood.

Disruption to normal routines, and changes in the expectations around being at school, social distancing, mask-wearing, regular testing and self-isolating have been overwhelming for lots of children.

It's important to remember there is no right or wrong way for them to have responded, and all children have been affected differently. There are lots of ways to support and help them manage the way they feel.

For those with additional needs, these challenges might be particularly upsetting and, as a parent or carer, you might need more support too.

We have some top tips and advice on how to support children with their mental health and wellbeing, as well as tips for coping with coming back to school.

Top tips to support children and young people

Be there to listen

Regularly ask how they're doing so they get used to talking about their feelings and know there's always someone to listen if they want it. Find out how to create a space where they will open up.

How to start a conversation with your child

Support them through difficulties

Pay attention to their emotions and behaviour, and try to help them work through difficulties. It's not always easy when faced with challenging behaviour, but try to help them understand what they're feeling and why.

Help with difficult behaviour and emotions

Stay involved in their life

Show interest in their life and the things important to them. It not only helps them value who they are but also makes it easier for you to spot problems and support them.

Encourage their interests

Being active or creative, learning new things and being a part of a team help connect us with others and are important ways we can all help our mental health. Support and encourage them to explore their interests, whatever they are.

Take what they say seriously

Listening to and valuing what they say, without judging their feelings, in turn makes them feel valued. Consider how to help them process and work through their emotions in a more constructive way.

The Anna Freud Centre support guide

Build positive routines

We know it still may not be easy, but try to reintroduce structure around regular routines, healthy eating and exercise. A good night's sleep is also really important – try to get them back into routines that fit with school or college.

Sleep tips for children


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