The Children’s Parliament Scottish survey of over 3500 children aged 8 to fourteen years found that their fears and worries had increased from the start of lockdown in April to end of May. They found girls were more concerned about their lives than boys. During the period of lockdown there was a 6% increase in worry over school work from 32% to 41%. In April when asked 65% of all children felt cheerful and in a good mood by May that had decreased to 61%. Half of eight to 11 year olds felt bored. In May 60% of 12 to 14 years olds were bored and 25% of all said they are worried about their health during the pandemic. However, reassuringly 9 in ten of all children surveyed said they had someone in the family they can talk to about their worries (www.childrensparliament.org.uk).
Living Life to the Full Characters
At LLTTF we caught up with Adam, Beth, Chloe and Deepak to see what they would have to say about their experience.
Adam who’s father is in the army is always facing life changes, he’s moved school several times due to his father’s postings around the globe. However since the outbreak of Covid – 19 he has been staying at his grandparents house with his mother and siblings. At times Adam has been sad because he hasn’t seen any of his friends or been able to do his usual outdoor hobbies. Adam has been frightened to go out because he worries about his grand parents catching the virus. However his older brother has been sneaking out to meet friends and this has cause a lot of tension and stress at home.
Beth likes to be amongst her peers and being the leader of the group. She’s been spending a lot of time listening to the news reports and getting angry the experts have not found a vaccine yet. However in the last few weeks she has only tuned in a couple of times a week and engaged in online chat and keep fit classes with her friends. This has helped her feel much more relaxed and cheerful again. She knows she needs to keep a check on how she feels otherwise things can build up and she gets frustrated and upset.
Chloe is comfortable in her own company so she hasn’t found lockdown too difficult. Her teacher has been posting daily school work and Chloe has managed easily to keep up, she has even been helping her Dad (who is furloughed) teach her young sister. Chloe has noticed she is less stressed than usual, however she is aware that the prospect of going out and about, back to school and all the large groups of people are making her feel quite unsettled when she thinks about it.
Deepak has really missed his football practice/games and the banter with his team mates. However he has had lots of time to practice his music lessons. He was very worried about missing school and the thought of anyone getting the coronavirus. When he’s worried he finds it hard to concentrate but his mum helped him work out a balanced plan for school work and play which really helped. He marked his mum 10 out of 10 for home schooling and feels ready for going back to school as soon as they can.
Coronavirus and Young People’s Anxieties
All of the characters from our Living Life to the Full for Children and Young People course have been created with the many challenges in mind faced by young people today, and this can be easily adapted for real life situations related to their worries surrounding the Covid-19 outbreak. Many children and young people will have anxieties about returning to school, and about the virus and while schools and teachers are used to supporting their pupils through the challenges that they face in life, the impact of the COVID 19 outbreak will have amplified these situations and there has never been a more important time for children and young people to have the emotional support that they need.
Our course helps young people to understand why they feel how they do and to understand that what they think, affects how they feel and what they do, and it also helps them to make the changes to feel happier.
How the Course Works
The course comes with a wealth of practical exercises and resources for young people to work through online and in books.
Understanding Your Feelings- the Vicious Cycle
In the ‘Change Modules’ Section of the course, the aim is to help young people to understand ‘the vicious cycle’ they can sometimes get stuck in and how to stop this and change their situation, spinning their cycle the other way- for the better.
Perhaps they are worried about the virus returning and being separated from friends and family again or are worried about relatives falling ill, or have experienced a parent loosing their job, and the stresses and strains experienced as a family because of this.
Whatever the situation, the course teaches to understand how you can get caught in a vicious cycle with bad thoughts going round and round and that thoughts can vary, and can sometimes be unhelpful, and make them feel bad.
This is when the cycle begins, and then starts spinning and may cause ‘altered feelings.’ These bad thoughts may make you feel like not going out because you’re scared of the virus, or returning to school may seem daunting.
This is when altered physical feelings are experienced- lying in bed awake and worrying about going back to school, sweating, shaking, head bursting and other sensations associated with anxiety.
The course teaches young people that when they feel bad mentally and physically, it can then change what they actually do- this is called ‘Altered Behaviour’- they might not bother getting up some days, or don’t want to see friends.
The Cards Life Deals You
Using the associated worksheets the young person can begin to see how they think has powerful impacts on how they feel and what they do using real life situations to summarise reactions, and see if they are stuck in a vicious cycle, and learn how to spot and respond differently to bad thoughts.
The course explain how to recognise unhelpful thinking styles and learning to chose to change the way you speak to yourself, perhaps being less concerned about what other people might think and learn to start spinning the vicious cycle the other way. Young people can then use the ‘plan, do review’ in order to put what they have learnt into practise.
‘Doing Things to Make You Feel Better’ teaches the key ingredients for living life to the full. When feeling stressed or low, everyday things can suddenly feel harder. Sleeping may become harder. Or eating well might go out of the window. This module talks through how stress can make your world smaller, by squeezing out the good stuff that used to be enjoyed every day, leaving your life emptier and smaller, perhaps you stop seeing people, and don’t feel so close to your friends. Or your relationship with your parents isn’t what it used to be.
The associated worksheet ‘My happy List’ can be used to reflect on things that improve how you feel, give a sense of pleasure or make you feel closer to others. Using the second worksheet ‘the checklist of things you’ve stopped doing’ they can identify things that they used to enjoy but have been cut down.
The course comes with a handy ‘Activity Planner’ to help young people to plan the activities which make them feel better as well as the things they need to do. The ‘plan, do and review’ can be used again to see learning and changing what you do as a result of the lessons learnt.
Module ‘Looking at Things Differently’
This module teaches young people how to change negative or stressful thinking. It teaches the young person to put their thoughts under the microscope and think about the advice they would give to a friend in the same circumstance, as often we are harder on ourselves.
The final ore module of the course is about ‘Building Confidence’. The ‘confidence head’ handout helps you to realise what people say to you, versus what you say to yourself. How you see yourself and other people around you, to notice what is positive, and what is negative, and to learn how to change form negative self talk to positive thoughts.
One of the key tools in this module is to teach young people positive affirmations, replacing the bad script in our heads with a good one and challenge unrealistic thoughts with the facts.
While working through the course, there are associated worksheets, ebooks with the facility to take notes while working and videos for each section.
Teaching Additional Life Skills
As well as the core modules in the course there are various optional modules which teach key tools such as:
How to fix almost everything- Break problems down into manageable chunks.
The things you do that help-Identify and continue helpful activities.
The things you do that mess you up-How some things we think help are actually part of the problem.
Asking for what you need-Being assertive and respecting what both you and others have to say and many more.
You Time Modules
These are nice little short 5 minute sessions that teach life skills, which aim to help you feel good, including Mindfulness, and using music to improve your mood and more.
To find out more about our course for young people for use in schools, charities and one to one situations, contact Donna at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Living Life to the Full Team.