We recently hosted a virtual coffee morning with a focus on supporting family relationships during the coronavirus pandemic. This article summarises the information shared at the meeting.
- Give them a role of responsibility with the child with a disability so they feel included.
- Create a social/therapeutic story (see resources below).
- Have some special time with just that child, even if it is only for a short amount of time.
- If it is possible, do a joint family activity together. Maybe the sibling could take the lead or choose the activity?
- In the evening, talk about three things that went well that day for each child. This will boost their self-esteem and move their mind from the negative into the positive.
- Create a gratitude jar. This is a jar where everybody writes one thing they are grateful for every day. It could be a plain jar that the children can decorate together. Set a date of when you’ll open the jar and read them all together.
- Be kind. Accept that it will be difficult and accept others may have difficult feelings.
- Spend time together to reconnect and focus on core values, e.g. nature, creating new things.
- Plan together.
- Breath work is very important. If you feel you start to get angry or irritable, try some breathing exercises – slow breaths, the ‘out’ breath needs to be longer than the ‘in’ breath. Try and practice throughout the day so you remain in control.
- Take time out.
- Look after your support networks and keep in touch with friends and family. A problem shared is a problem halved. Have a good rant at someone!
- Show compassion. Think of the saying “We’re in the same sea, but in different boats.”
- Try and ensure there is some positive dialogue throughout the day.
- Check your body signals. If you are noticing you are getting flustered, move around to try and calm yourself, e.g. shake your arms and legs, go for a walk, do some stretches.
- Be careful how much information you share with children. Use the Goldilocks principle: not too little information (as the child will fill the gaps in themselves) and not too much information (as the child will be overwhelmed and possibly anxious).
- Get in touch with support organisations to talk through any concerns.
- Stick to one news stream and avoid ‘fake’ news.
- Think of what you can and can’t control. Try and put aside what you can’t control, or change how you behave. For example, if you are out and about and someone comes closer than you would like them to, move away.
- Have Covid-free time.
- Ensure children have tasks and some responsibility – it will give them control and stability.
- Create a journal. Write down your thoughts and feelings and try and make sense of them.
Useful links and resources
About my feelings (Widgit symbols)
List of virtual live events for children with additional needs
Coronavirus survival guide
Coronavirus hibernation pack
Lockdown Journal (for children to fill in)
My lockdown experience (Widgit symbols)
Our day at home (Widgit symbols for creating a visual timetable)
Top tips for families from the National Autistic Society