Preparing children to emerge from the coronavirus lockdown

As the UK eases the coronavirus lockdown and families start to adjust to a ‘new normal’, it can be overwhelming and scary for your child. Here we share some tips about how 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

  • It might sound obvious and you have probably already been talking to your children about coronavirus and lockdown right from the start.
  • Find out how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking and 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

  • It’s very likely you will be in touch with your child’s school already. They might have sent out information or been in contact online.
  • It could be helpful to look at photographs of how the classrooms will appear different.
  • 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 together, and stories about new experiences and challenges.
  • Stories 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 will experience when they return.
  • Ask your school for information about what your child can expect from their new routine.
  • Practice what will change 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.
  • It can also be a great time to talk through their concerns with them.
  • 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 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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