Coronavirus: supporting children who may be especially vulnerable during times of uncertainty

We realise it can be difficult to know what to say to children about the global crisis (see earlier blog ‘Coronavirus: helpful information to answer questions from children’).

Some children may be especially vulnerable at this time of uncertainty. This may include (but is not limited to) children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), children who are ‘Looked After’ and children who are deemed to be Children in Need. These children may need extra support to ensure that they maintain good levels of wellbeing. 

Julia Clements and Paula Nagel, Place2Be's Principal Educational Psychologists, suggest some ways to support children who may be especially vulnerable at this time.

Child drawing

Communication

In line with the child’s age, level of understanding and language development, explain in clear, simple terms, what coronavirus is. Let them know that adults are working hard to keep everyone safe and why there is a need for changes to their normal routine. The following resources may be helpful:

Focus on what will stay the same

For children who find change particularly stressful, reassure them about what will stay the same in their lives, despite all the changes. Many children will find it reassuring to be reminded that there is some consistency, for example, in where they live, who looks after them, the fact that school work and home work still needs to be done, the fact that they can still watch their favourite TV programmes etc.

Extra support

Some children may need particular support to help manage their anxiety or low mood. They may be particularly triggered by events such as seeing supermarket shelves emptying quickly – especially if they have experienced neglect or if particular foods become scarce or unavailable. Remember that a change in behaviour, such as restlessness, being more disruptive than usual or becoming quieter, may be underpinned by stress and anxiety.

The following resources may be helpful:

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