Preparing children to emerge from the coronavirus lockdown

When the UK eases the coronavirus lockdown and families start to adjust to a ‘new normal’, it may be overwhelming or scary for your child. This is completely understandable – and there are ways you can help.

Here’s how to to help prepare your child as we emerge from the lockdown.

Parent and child sat on the floor in front of the sofa

Talk together

You may have been talking to your children about coronavirus and lockdown right from the start. Take time to find out how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking. Let them know it’s OK to feel scared or a bit unsure.

We might not know the answers to all of their questions, but just talking things through can help them to feel calmer.

Prepare for going back to school

  • You child’s school will be in touch with updates about the approach they’re taking in the next weeks.
  • If you can get some photographs of how classrooms will appear, it could be helpful to look at these so you understand what the set up will be.
  • Making sure your child knows little details, such as where they have lunch or where they store their things, can make the transition easier.
  • Find stories about going to school to read with your child, and stories about new experiences and challenges. These will help your child to prepare themselves and open opportunities for them to voice any worries.
  • Talk about what their school day used to be like and differences that they’ll experience when they return.
  • Ask your school for information about what your child can expect from their new routine.
  • Practise some of the things that will change with your child when they go back to school. This will help them understand the changes and feel more in control when they happen.
  • Read more advice about returning to school.

Play with your child

  • Spend time doing a positive activity together.
  • Reading, playing, painting or cooking all help to instil a sense of security in children.
  • Play can also be a great time to talk through their concerns with them, if this feels like the best approach.
  • Exercise – movement helps us calm down and get big feelings out.
  • Here are some activity ideas for toddlers, children and teens.

Return to your routine

  • Most children thrive on routine so regular waking, eating and bedtimes should ease them back into their old routine again.
  • Lots of families have found that bedtimes have got later during lockdown, try bringing them back to your target time by reducing gradually in 10-minute increments.
  • Wait until your child is sleeping well before reducing again.

Try breathing exercises

Teach your child to do simple breathing exercises to ‘help calm the butterflies in your tummy’ (or use the phrase you usually use about jittery nervous tummies).

Helpful exercises for children are:

  • Finger breathing: trace the fingers of one hand with one finger breathing in on the up stroke and out on the down stroke.
  • Square and rectangle breathing: trace the shape of a square on your leg, on the table in front of you or in the air. Breathe in on one side and out on the next. Go round and round the square until you feel calm inside. Once you are good at the square stretch it out to a rectangle, in on the short sides and out on the longer sides.
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