Coronavirus: Calling all parents - we're here to help
Our free online resources can help you bring the power of kindness into your home during the coronavirus outbreak
Parenting can be the most rewarding job in the world, and also the hardest. And during the coronavirus outbreak, we’re all in uncharted territory. Maybe we’re spending more quality time together as a family. Or we’re driving each other round the bend and feeling cooped up with nothing to do. For many of us, it’s both.
Plus, you may feel worried about money, the future, the family’s health, or your children’s education.
This is why the British Red Cross has created a set of free online resources for parents, teachers and young people. They cover issues around coronavirus that may be coming up for children, and also how to be kind to our loved ones and ourselves.
Here’s a quick look at what’s available so you can find what will work best for your family:
1. Our kindness calendar can help your children focus on the good things
It’s clear – with clapping for the NHS, rainbows springing up in windows and thousands volunteering to help – people want to be kind.
Our kindness calendar will get your children thinking about kindness – what it means and how they can bring it to life. You can download the calendar plus activities for children and young people of all ages, and a record card that children can use to keep track of their kind acts. At the end of the week, it’s rewarding to look back at all they’ve achieved.
Here are some ideas for children to get started:
- write or draw what kindness means to them
- check in on neighbours in a safe way, like putting a note through the door
- call or write to a relative who might live alone or be self-isolating
- write down three things they are grateful for
- do something helpful for a friend or family member – like helping lay or clear the table or tidy their bedroom
- stay at home: by following the advice you are being kind to others in the community, and helping save lives.
2. Advice and activities to ease worries and practise coping skills
All this uncertainty and change will have an impact on children (and all of us). We’ve put together advice on talking with children about a major emergency. It includes tips on helping children understand what they might be feeling, and ideas on how to help them talk about their fears and other emotions.
Doing this can be easier than you might think. For instance, it could help for children to:
- write or draw things they like to do
- care for a pet
- listen to or play music
- build a den.
There's a version of this advice for young people of secondary school age as well.
We’re also sharing short videos from Dr Radha Mogdil, an NHS GP, broadcaster and campaigner for wellbeing, with top tips on checking in with your children. With a focus on continuity, care and creativity, Dr Radha reminds parents that we must look after our own mental health as well. "With your mental and emotional wellbeing comes your children's," she says.
And even breathing can help children deal with stress and difficult feelings or situations. Our video on practising coping skills explains how this works. You and your children can think of a colour for relaxed feelings, (like the warm, golden sun) and one for not so good feelings (like the grey of a rainy day). Then talk about how the colours make you feel and practise breathing with colour together.
3. Learn first aid online on our website for children
Now is a great time to encourage your little ones to learn first aid. It’s a crucial life skill that gives children and young people the confidence to put their kindness into action when others need it most.
Our First Aid champions website makes it easy. Activities are geared towards primary or secondary learners, and you can follow six young characters who learn what to do when someone gets hurt. Accidents or medical emergencies can be frightening, so the site helps young people face what could happen in advance and understand how to help.
Using films and quizzes, they can learn independently and you don’t need any first aid skills yourself if you want to help. But maybe you could play the role of a casualty for them to practise on!
4. Help keep learning alive outside of school
The Red Cross offers a wide range of free online teaching resources on subjects ranging from humanitarianism to coronavirus. There are resources for primary and secondary learners, plus a guide on creating a safe space to discuss difficult topics
Originally created for teachers to use in classrooms, these online resources also work at home, where many parents are trying to keep their children’s learning going. Older learners can explore the resources themselves, while parents can use some of the activities with younger children.
Whatever you choose to do, remember that we’re all in this together, and being honest about our feelings and kind to each other really can help.
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