Children and Young People
At this difficult time in which COVID-19 has changed our lives dramatically and we are observing government advice to lockdown and self-isolate, we are aware of how difficult it can be for children, young people and their parents/carers. The demands of managing any worries and concerns and juggling school work and day to day tasks may feel overwhelming at times.
We are following official guidance from the NHS, UK Government and World Health Organisation. The situation is changing constantly so you can always check the GOV.UK website for up to the minute advice.
Below are a number resources and links to services that we have developed and/or found, that we hope may be helpful to you at this time.
Children and Young People's Wellbeing
Here are our top tips for supporting children and young people with their emotional, mental health and wellbeing:
We have also produced some information about supporting children with pre-existing medical conditions who have been instructed to shield:
Information to help support children and young people through bereavement from Coronavirus can be found here:
Help to sleep
Sleep helps us in many ways, but it is hugely dependent on a consistent routine and exposure to light, both of which are likely to have been affected during the pandemic.
- Get at least 20 mins morning daylight
This is one of the most powerful ways to ensure that you are sleepy when light levels drop in the evening. Getting daylight when possible throughout the day is also helpful.
- Keep to a routine
Having consistent daily timings helps your body and brain know when it is time to be awake and when to go to sleep. You might find it helpful to replicate their school/college timetable, or you might prefer to make a new daily routine with a range of activities that you find enjoyable and important to you built in.
- Wind down before bed
This is to help cue your body and brain into sleep. Ways to wind down might include listening to calming music, having a bath or shower and mindfulness meditations.
- No screens in the hour before bed
This helps the natural production of sleep hormones, to bring on sleepiness, and reduces the chances of seeing something exciting or anxiety-provoking which might make it harder to get to sleep.
- No daytime naps
Napping in the day makes it harder to sleep at night. When you are awake, it is like you are filling up a tank of sleep fuel that helps you to sleep.
More information about sleep can be accessed here:
It can be easy to get caught up in the things we feel we should do, rather than the things that bring us happiness or pleasure. It is important to balance out our activities so that there are opportunities for fun throughout the day.
- Do something you enjoy every day
What do you enjoy and what is important to you? Can you do those things at the moment? If you cannot because of lockdown, are there other things you can do? See the next points for some ideas.
- Listen to your favourite music
Close your eyes and imagine the musicians.
- Make a playlist for someone
Share some music with your friends or family.
- Do something creative
Paint, colouring, cook something new or even try write a poem!
- Have an at home entertainment show
Perform a sketch / play / song / dance for the other people in your house.
- Play a board game
Board games can be play in person alone or with others in a group. There are lots to choose from.
- Call a friend, or even write them a letter!
Physical exercise is good for keeping us in a good mood, as well as keeping us fit and healthy. As we are in lockdown, we might have to swap the things that we usually do to stay active for things that we can do at home, or during our daily exercise.
Aim to exercise for about 60 minutes a day, at an intensity that makes you feel warmer and breathe faster. This should be a combination of exercises that strengthen your muscles and bones, and aerobic exercises (like jogging or cycling).
- Get active outdoors when you can (with social distancing)
- Try a YouTube workout
- Family walks / cycle rides
- Yoga – different styles have different effects!
Thoughts and feelings
Sometimes our thoughts can really get to us, and being at home so much might make this happen more often. Here are some techniques to help you manage difficult thoughts.
- Worried? Is there someone you can talk to?
- Some people find it helpful to make a special time every day to think about things that worry them. If you think it might help, try putting a few minutes aside in the evening to write down the things that are on your mind, and then make plans about what to do.
- Can you do anything about your worry?
- Yes? - Make a plan and do it.
- No? - Let it go and do something else.
- What would help you to distract yourself? Perhaps one of your enjoyable activities.
- Imagine putting your thoughts on leaves on a stream, or clouds, and letting them float away.
We all experience overwhelming feelings at times. Some people might find being at home so much at the moment especially trying. Here are some strategies that might help with managing uncomfortable feelings.
- Feelings are a bit like weather, even if they feel overwhelming, they pass with time.
- Breathing exercises can be really helpful if you’re feeling tense. They trigger your self-soothing body systems.
- Muscle relaxation can also help with tension.
Mindfulness can help you feel okay to sit with your feelings; comfortable or otherwise
More information about how to deal with worrying feelings or thoughts can be found here:
Social media can be really helpful, but too much of it can feel overwhelming, and make it seem that things are worse than they really are. Trying to limit your exposure to social media could help with this.
- Put your phone / tablet away for a while. The first step to this is noticing that you are looking at your device!
- Filter scary keywords out of your feeds.
- If you have to go online, limit it to once or twice a day if you can.
- At a set time every night, everyone puts their phones and devices on charge in a central location away from bedrooms, and they stay there all night. This has been shown to really boost sleep quality.
Useful resources for children under 12 years old
Young children may be finding the world a scary and anxiety provoking place at the moment. Very young children may not be fully aware of the situation, but the changes, and anxiety of others around them, may have caused them to be more unsettled.
To support and help young children at this time we have identified a number of resources and links to services and organisations that may be helpful to young children and their parents and caregivers.
More information and resources for Younger Children can be found here:
Tim and Moby Explain Coronavirus Video
Coronavirus A Book For Children - written by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson & Nia Roberts
Younger Children Apps:
Useful resources for older children 12 -18 years old
Older children and young people may be finding the changes at this time challenging. Whilst they may understand the situation better than younger children, having more insight into what is happening may cause them to have worries. Lack of contact with friends and disruption to school and other hobbies, activities and social groups may be really hard for them.
To support and help older children we have identified a number of resources and links to services and organisations that may be helpful to them and their parents and caregivers at this time.
More information for Older Children can be found here:
Coronavirus A Book For Children - written by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson & Nia Roberts
A resource pack for teenagers to help manage difficult feeling about Coronavirus can be found here.
Older Children Apps:
- Helping You Prepare For Going Into Hospital App
- Smiling Mind App
- Stop, Breath and Think App
- WhatsUp? App
NUH Youth Service
Our award-winning Youth Service supports young people ( from 11-24) living with a wide range of long-term medical conditions and disabilities in both children's and adult services.
The Youth Service aims to provide:
- SUPPORT for young people who access hospital services, giving them places to go, positive activities to do and someone to talk to
- EMPOWERMENT, enabling young people to have their voices heard and influence decision-making at various levels of the Trust
- OPPORTUNITY, providing a diverse range of personal and social development opportunities and a smooth transition into adult services, delivered by a skilled workforce
Find out more at www.nuhyouthservice.org.uk
Useful resources for children with special educational needs
Children with additional special educational needs, and their parents and caregivers, may be finding things increasingly challenging at this time. The changes that have been made for access to the community, to social groups, school and contact with family and friends, may be particularly anxiety provoking and unsettling for some children and young people, particularly those on the autistic spectrum who find change difficult.
Below are a number of resources and links to services and organisations that may be helpful to children, young people and their parents and caregivers at this time.
- Contact for families with disabled children
- Supporting Individuals with Autism Through Uncertain Times 7 Support Strategies
- Hand Washing Tips for People With Sensory Difficulties
- Greenside School Home Learning, Activities and Resources
- Molehill Mountain Anxiety App for Children on the Autistic Spectrum