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Resources
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Supporting young people in an uncertain world following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by Alicia Drummond, Therapist & Founder of The Wellbeing Hub

The past two years have taken their toll on the wellbeing of so many people and the last thing we all needed was more uncertainty and drama, but here we are, Russia has invaded Ukraine, and none of us knows how this war will play out.  Amongst children and young people anxiety levels are high, and many are feeling frightened as they grapple, perhaps for the first time, with the possibility of war in Europe, and nuclear threat.

The trouble with uncertainty is that it fuels the hypothetical, worst case scenario, “what if” thinking that feeds anxiety, and can leave us feeling hopeless and helpless. We can offer reassurance; we can remind them that every country in the world is working to prevent the escalation of the problem, but we can’t give them absolute assurance that things won’t get worse.

Instead, we can:

  • listen carefully and show empathy which will help them feel connected, understood, and soothed
  • encourage them to limit their consumption of news – doom scrolling through social media newsfeeds can contribute to feelings of anxiety
  • if you have the TV on as a background to family life, please be aware that your children will be absorbing the news
  • answer their questions truthfully but keep conversations brief – we don’t want to ignore the subject, but we don’t want to dwell on it either
  • your answers need to be age appropriate, for example, younger children might just need to know that countries fight from time to time. Older children will need more detail, but stick to known facts from reputable sources
  • remind them that whilst we can’t always choose what happens, we can choose how we respond. For example, if they get caught up in anxious thoughts, encourage them to stop, breathe and focus on what is happening right now – what can you see, hear, smell, or touch around you?
  • encourage them to engage in problem solving. You might say something like, “Right now, in this moment, you are ok, but your thoughts might be telling you otherwise, so what can you do to distract yourself?
  • give younger children something that reminds them of you which they can pop in their pocket and hold on to when they feel frightened. A snippet of your clothing which smells of you, a stone or shell you found together, or a photograph of a happy family moment can all help to make them feel safe if you are not around for a hug.
  • for older children encourage them to find an anchor and a mantra. The anchor needs to be something they always wear such as a watch or piece of jewellery and the mantra needs to be one they chose, for example, “this feeling will pass” or “right now I am safe”.  When they feel anxious, they can touch the anchor and repeat the mantra to remind themselves that this a temporary feeling.
  • encourage them to use their healthy coping behaviours which are the things we do that make us feel calm. Whether it’s exercising, knitting, playing music, creating dance videos on Tik Tok, cooking, or reading, they are the activities which boost production of our happy hormones, serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine.  Often when we feel distressed, we stop using our healthy coping strategies, but this is when we need them most.
  • remember that you are your child’s primary role model. If they see you using helpful thinking and coping strategies, they will follow your lead.  If you are calm and positive you will help them stay calm and positive too.  Like you, they will be feeling a wide range of emotions, and it is important that they are allowed to feel their feelings if they are to learn to manage them.
  • finally, remember that whilst we are all designed to cope with significant stress, we all have a breaking point. If you feel that you, or another member of your family is not coping, please don’t be afraid to seek professional help.

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Other resources you might be interested in:

Managing Negative Thought Patterns by Clare Nicholas, School Counsellor at Pipers Corner

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2022, we thought we’d share this blog written by Clare Nicholas on negative thought patterns. Clare shares her advice on how to manage negative thought patterns, practise self-care, and notice your positive attributes. This is a great one to share with your child/pupils.

Understanding ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitits) CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) by Alicia Drummond, Parenting Expert & Therapist

It is hard living with ME/CFS, patients feel really unwell and miss out on day-to-day life because they simply don’t have the energy to participate. People with ME/CFS often have to make major lifestyle changes to manage their illness, and all of this can make them more susceptible to developing mental health issues, such as depression. Alicia discusses what ME/CFS is, and gives practical tips for parents with children with ME/CFS.

Eating Disorders with Alicia Drummond, Therapist & Founder of The Wellbeing Hub

This week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week and with an estimated 1.25 million people living with an eating disorder in the UK it is helpful to know what we can do in terms of prevention and support. We discuss what an eating disorder is, how to spot the signs, and how to prevent your child from suffering with an eating disorder.

Revision & Mocks: Advice for Parents by Lizzie Mitchell, University Lecturer & Tutor

January will have been a busy time for those sitting mocks in preparation for the summer.  Some will have been reassured when they received their results, while others may have felt disappointed. As parents it can be difficult to know how best to help.  So, what can we do? Lizzie Mitchell, an experienced tutor and university lecturer, shares her top tips and advice for parents.

Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder with Alicia Drummond

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a mental health problem which affects two in every one hundred people.   It is a complex disorder which can be difficult to understand for both the sufferer and their family and friends.  You often hear people joking about being a bit OCD when you see their immaculate laundry cupboard or categorised book collection, but those who suffer from OCD know it is absolutely no joke. So what is it?

The Importance Of Hugs For Self-Esteem & Wellbeing In Adolescents with Alicia Drummond

As our children enter adolescence, they will start to reject things which seem childish to them, and that may include our gestures of affection.  As parents we generally accept their rejection of childhood toys and interests but struggle when we are in the firing line. It is a sad day when a previously affectionate child pulls away from a hug or shuts down your expressions of love. For parents, the loss of intimacy can feel devastating, but what we sometimes fail to appreciate is that even though they are the ones doing the rejecting, they will experience a sense of loss too. In celebration of National Hugging Day, we discuss the importance of hugs for the self-esteem and wellbeing of young people.

Coping with Omicron Uncertainty with Alicia Drummond

The past twenty months have taken their toll on the wellbeing of so many people and the last thing we all needed was more uncertainty and drama, but here we are, Omicron is with us, and life has become unpredictable once more. We share our tips on how to support your children and cope with the uncertainty of life with the new Omicron variant.

How To Support Your Child’s Mental Health During Lockdown

We are starting to see an increase in Covid restrictions again and the cracks are showing. Parents are telling us that they are not ok and many are concerned about the mental health of their children, both young ones and teenagers.  We are in a period of collective mourning with many of us grieving our loss of certainty, of social interaction, of familiar habits and routines.  We want our old lives back and we want it now. We share our tips on how to support your child’s mental health during these uncertain times.

In conversation with Emma-Jane Taylor On Teens & Mental Health

Alicia went onto the Emma-Jane Show’s podcast to discuss all things teens and mental health. This is a very open and honest conversation about recovery, resilience and Alicia’s journey to where she is today. 

Family Meals

In this blog, we consider the advantages of eating together as a family – something we have all apparently been managing to do more often since lockdown.

Talking About Race And Ethnicity With Children & Teens

Following the horrific death of George Floyd and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, we have been asked for advice on how to talk to children and teenagers about racism. 

Online Grooming & Radicalisation [how to spot the signs and what to do]

With young people online more than ever, those who would seek to influence, radicalise or groom them via social media and gaming will be busy. Find out how to support your child and help them stay safe.

Free Listening Sessions For Teens In Particular Need Of Support

We are working with some wonderful therapists across the country and some are offering two free, half hour emergency sessions to teenagers who might be particularly struggling.

How To Talk To Your Child About Coronavirus

A pandemic can be a scary time for parents and children alike. So here are some pointers for keeping young people calm and holding a panic-free conversation about Coronavirus.