In the past year, we have witnessed more change than we could have imagined possible. As adults, we have struggled with overwhelming daily news, pressures of working from home and the strain of homeschooling – it’s been challenging to say the least. Yet we must remember that our adult brains are better able to rationalise and adapt to unusual occurrences than the less-developed brains of our children: Younger brains may need more support to help them cope and make sense of the world.
So, with our children unable to see their friends or hug their grandparents; being made to stay home, often witnessing their parents’ anxieties, and being exposed to a dangerous level of information from the media, it’s unsurprising that some are finding the current situation overwhelming.
As if ready for the year that was to come, new local charity The Purple Elephant Project was founded in 2019 to support children and young people working through traumas and adverse life events. The team of highly experienced therapists use Play Therapy to help children facing complex emotions:
“We enable children to express themselves through the safety of play, working through challenges such as trauma, anxiety, bereavement and fear,” says Founder, Jenny Haylock. “It seems like fate that we arrived in time to support these children through the pandemic, and we now face a demand we could never have predicted.”
Part of the charity’s remit is to support parents and carers, and with so many juggling home-schooling, Jenny has some helpful tips to help with the current lockdown:
• Manage expectations: Both yours and your child’s. Remember you are first and foremost a parent, not a teacher, so be kind to yourself. This will pave the way for working towards achievable goals: Try to focus on complex tasks in the morning when your child can focus better and when you have more energy.
• Secondly, Jenny recommends routine: “Children thrive on daily patterns, as it gives them the reassurance they need to focus on other things. Break your day into manageable chunks, adding fun activities or downtime to look forward to. Where possible, try not to do work in a child’s bedroom – this needs to be a safe space for them to rest and play.”
• Thirdly, get creative! “Arts and crafts are a wonderful, calming distraction during stressful times,” says Jenny. “Using anything you can source, try to choose a theme each day: One day it might be rainforests, the next it might be sparkling cities. You can store creations or take photographs to look back on, and for now, it’s a reminder of the great things in the world.”
The Purple Elephant Project