Responding to changes in child behaviour during ‘lockdown’​

Since the nursery has been temporarily closed during lockdown, I have had a number of parents contact me about changes in their children’s behaviour during this lockdown period and I hope to offer some reassurances to parents at this time. 

Firstly, please rest assured that any changes in your little one’s behaviour right now is, in most cases, to be expected and quite normal under these unprecedented circumstances. Though younger children don’t perhaps have the full understanding of what is going on in the world, they do easily pick up on what is going on around them and can sense any tension and anxieties. They have suddenly had a complete change to their usual routine and have quickly had to adapt. 

Often because of the lack of skills to be able to communicate their feelings, children’s anxieties are likely to reflect in their behaviour, be this more clingy, angry or reluctant. Quite simply, the best that you can do right now is continue to offer continued comfort and reassurance. 

Many attachment theorists (an area I enjoyed studying for my Early Years Childhood Studies degree dissertation) would suggest that you can never offer too much of this. It will certainly not do any developmental damage but in fact only help to increase personal, social and emotional well-being. 

Don’t get me wrong, independence is something that should, most certainly, be strongly encouraged in all children. I can also offer you suggestions in this area too, but there is perhaps a bigger need, right now, to help ensure that any underlying anxieties are dealt with. 

Spend whatever quality time together that you can, with plenty of outdoor play where possible; baking, painting, board games, movies together, science experiments, role play, reading stories together and discussing the book, even if it is the same one over and over again. 

I believe that once children begin to feel a bit more secure about the situation, they will then begin to feel more confident again in their independent play. Do not worry about any regression in their development and how they might be when they return to Nursery. 

Childcare practitioners always anticipate that there are heightened emotions to deal with after long periods of absence, and we use the same approach, that I am proposing, comfort, reassurance and many varied activities to keep them occupied. 

As hard as it all seems at the moment, this situation will not last forever and I cannot wait until we have the green safety light to reopen my nursery. 

In the meantime, I am always happy to offer any support or advice, as best as I can. Take it from me, children do grow up very quickly and become independent, of you. 

This strange time, spent together, doing strange things, may well become one stored in their memory forever. So please stay calm and carry on. I am sure that you are all doing a fabulous job. You never know, many of you may wish to pursue a career in childcare at the end of this…