Helping Children & Teenagers Deal with Loss During Social Isolation

No one could have predicted the situation we find ourselves in. Something that none of us have ever experienced before so how to do we support the younger members of our family through this when we do not know how to feel ourselves?

Recognising that what we are all going through is a loss and for some it will be traumatic, is a good starting point. Yes we are all in the same boat but we have not all walked the same path or have the same levels of emotional resilience. Children look to the adults responses as a guide to how they should respond. If as adults we are experiencing anxiety it will embody our children and rock their security as it may be a version of their parent, carer or teacher that they have never seen before. All of their routine and boundaries have been removed overnight which again will leave them very unsettled. Children are used to a very structured week with firm rules and boundaries in their education setting. Removing that security leaves a massive gap. Initial reaction may present as joy as they see it as an extended holiday. However, as the days role into weeks and the lack or routine, boundaries, education to activate the brain and social connection build you may notice a change in their mood and behaviour. Recognising the loss cycle may help you understand your child or teenager and give you the grounding and confidence to communicate that it is a natural response to the grief their body's and mind's will be processing.


Looking at this model of the stages of loss you may be able to notice these feelings coming out in your child's behaviour. It isn't uncommon to get to one stage and then jump back a stage or maybe even back to the beginning. Understanding that this is a natural process that we all have to go through to bring change into acceptance can help everyone understand what is happening in your home. You don't need to have the answers for anything it is about being aware. Talking about feelings isn't something that children always do naturally. Maybe they don't have the words to explain what they are feeling. There are lots of tools online you can use to help your child express their feelings. I find using Mood Cards or the Feelings wheel really helpful when working with young people. Whatever they say they are feeling, reassuring them that it is a human natural response to what is going on will help stabilise them. It's not always about providing children with the answer, it is about hearing them and letting them know that it is ok to feel this way.

Remember, children like structure and routine, even if they don't realise it. Try and stick to their normal school day schedule getting up, meal and snack times and bedtime routine. This isn't a holiday. Keep information factual but limited to an amount you feel they can deal with without raising their anxiety. Keeping active is really important, so if they can't get out in the garden find some child friendly exercise videos online. Exercise is a great way to naturally boost mental health. If you still feel your child is struggling have a look online for local Counsellors. Many of them will be able to offer you support via online sessions during this time of change.

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