Building resilience and strategies to deal with adversity are important lessons for any child, but are particularly vital for children and young people living in care. Over the last few weeks we’ve all suddenly had our lives and routines changed beyond all recognition. Relationships that have been built up in schools and daily routines have been flipped on their heads and, for young people in care, this could potentially have a negative impact on positive mental well-being.
For parents and carers there is also an understandable strain at the moment. The sudden impact of home schooling and dealing with a lack of choice and increased restrictions, means that there will be understandable locking of heads, particularly with teenagers. One of the biggest things to remember is that we are all in this together. Households across the country are dealing with the same challenges. So, what can we do to ensure that the young people in our care (and the parents and carers) maintain a positive mental attitude and build their resilience?
Try to create a new routine
It’s amazing how a change in our normal routines can have an effect on our mental resilience. Aside from the fact that they provide us with milestones throughout the day, they also help us to work towards goals. For a child at school, they may pinpoint moments in their day such as lunchtime, home-time and favourite lessons.
Trying to establish a routine at home can help in two ways. Firstly, they still have something to work towards, and secondly it will help when the schools eventually reopen. Setting a regular wake up time and lunch and dinner times maintains feelings of a routine, also set scheduled times for them to catch up with friends over video chats.
Maintain a hopeful outlook
Many of us are understandably gripped by the daily news, and while it is important to keep the young people in our care up to date about current events, it’s also important to maintain hope. The lockdown won’t last forever, China is already easing their restrictions, we will be able to see our friends and go out again, and the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy have been named as essential workers.
Setting goals within your household and letting the younger members know that they have a useful role can make a difference to resilience. Whether the goal is to get a part of the garden planted or a room decorated, or simply to ensure that at the end of every day the house is tidy, the family can work towards them to ensure that they get a reward at the end of it. You can decide as a group what the reward is, for example, a take away at the end of the week, or something for the whole family to look forward to when lockdown ends.
It’s probably arguable that we should all be embracing mindfulness at the moment, but children and young people can particularly benefit from mindfulness techniques. You can either have a time in your daily routine when you all take time out, or you could encourage everyone in the family to take their own moments. There are some great ways to encourage mindfulness here and YouTube is full of exercises for adults and children.
The one thing that we should all remember is that this situation provides us with the opportunity to get to know the other people living in our households. Playing boardgames, chatting to each other, and even doing some silly TikTok dances can build bonds and relationships.