12 May, 2022

Quick tips for supporting your child

How can children deal with turbulent times?
Disruption is always difficult, and over the last 2 years we have seen people having to embrace greater change than any time in living memory.

The shock of these situations may appear to have settled, but we can never fully understand the impact of this worry and anxiety on our children. As a parent, no matter how concerned or overwhelmed you may feel, you have the power to help your child recover. Through comfort, support, and reassurance you can make them feel safe and secure and develop important resilience in these turbulent times.

Just like adults, all children cope differently, and it is not always obvious if our children are showing signs of trauma or anxiety. Some signs to look out for:

  • Belief that the world is unsafe
  • Constantly replaying events in their minds
  • Irritability, anger and moodiness
  • Poor concentration
  • Appetite or sleep issues
  • Behaviour problems
  • Nervousness about people getting too close
  • Jumpiness from loud noises
  • Regression to earlier behaviour in young children, such as: clinging, bedwetting, or thumb-sucking
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Detachment or withdrawal from others
  • Inability to function, such as: go to school, play with friends, etc.

So how can I help my child who is experiencing trauma or anxiety?

The strategies and tips in this article have been suggested by psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental health professionals via the Anna Freud Centre (https://www.annafreud.org/) and the Child Mind Institute (https://childmind.org/).

How do we support children to deal with turbulent times in school?

At TBS Warsaw we are dedicated to supporting your child, especially their mental health, as we value the importance of it in academic achievement and creating resilient future citizens. Wellbeing and mental health underpin our teaching and learning as we offer different opportunities for children to access support whenever they need it.

Wellbeing lessons and sessions

Each year group and class have dedicated wellbeing lessons that are designed to allow children to talk about issues they are concerned or interested in, whilst also developing their social, emotional and mental skills. In line with the PLGs, children are given the opportunities in these sessions to collaborate and communicate their ideas, feelings, thoughts and ask questions about issues, such as friendships, world news, transitioning to new schools/year groups, etc. These weekly sessions give children reassurance about being different and having different opinions in a safe environment where they are not judged or criticised.

Trusted Adults – who can your child seek help from?

As part of our wellbeing sessions and at the start of each academic year, we spend time with the children identifying safe and trusted adults they can seek support from. This is important to reassure your child that they have adults around them who they can approach when anxious, worried, angry or upset and cannot solve the problem by themselves. We take care to ensure children know that they won't be judged or criticised, and how to recognised a trusted adult. The bond between teachers and students is crucial when supporting mental health and we pride ourselves on knowing our students well.

Reading

In the last few years, we have brought in a diverse range of books that allow children to discuss and learn about different topics, feelings and emotions in a safe and comfortable way – through the characters. Books are an amazing tool for helping children to identify different themes and learning the best coping strategies to use as they can discuss how characters should or shouldn't behave, solutions to problems and how actions can affect others. Our library also has a range of books that the children can take home to read and continue to learn from different characters and stories.

Books we use at TBS Warsaw Primary:

  • The Song from Somewhere Else by A.F. Harold
  • Wild Robot by Peter Brown
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • Molly Rogers to the Rescue by Cornelia Funke
  • The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad
  • The Last Wild by Piers Torday

Suggested books you can read at home with your children:

  • Ruby's worry by Tom Percival
  • Not my fault by Cathy Howe
  • Superhero street by Phil Earle
  • Leo and the octopus by Isabelle Marinov
  • The Worrysaurus by Rachel Bright
  • Have you filled your bucket today? by Carol McCloud

Reflection time

Each week, children are encouraged to reflect on their learning and weekly activities to allow them to develop an open dialogue of what has gone well and what they can improve on. They can identify where they have struggled, any questions they have and what they are proud of. By developing their reflection skills, children can apply this to other situations and reflect on their actions and the impact on others. Teachers offer praise and support during these sessions, encouraging children to learn from their mistakes and to keep trying.

Wellbeing leaders

Over the last 2 years, students have been helping other students through our student leadership programme. Our dedicated Wellbeing Leaders, led by Mrs. Garlick, have worked hard to find solutions for the wellbeing issues that have arisen in school, and have provided many activities to offer distraction, mindfulness or enjoyment. Currently the Wellbeing Leaders have organised a 'Wake up, Brain up’ campaign where children from Y2-6 run, walk, hop or skip around the playing field for 20 minutes in the morning. The burst of endorphins that the children receive from this morning exercise helps to set them up for the day and provide a lovely start to the day.

If you are concerned about your child's mental health, please contact your class teacher or our school psychologist to discuss how we can help support your child.

Further advice and strategies:

If you wish to discuss anything raised in their article, please feel free to contact me by email (rebecca.hunter@thebritishschool.pl).

Rebecca Hunter

Year 3 Learning Leader