When children return to school, remember that every child’s Lockdown experience has been different. Teachers are not therapists, however what you can do is give children the right tools to deal with emotional pain and grief, and you can control how you talk and listen to children. 
There are some obvious and subtle behaviours that can indicate that children are not feeling ok or may even be in emotional distress. They may be struggling to adapt with the change of returning to school after a long period at home. They might have lost a family member to COVID-19. They may have had an awful time at home, having lost the one place they feel safe (school). Fundamentally, you know the children in your care and how they normally behave and react to situations. 
Going back to the classroom after lockdown

Give children the right tools 

Behaviours that children may display because they don’t know how to express their feelings verbally, or they’re feeling vulnerable include: 
1. Regression 
2. Isolation 
3. Anger 
4. Emotional immaturity 
5. Crying over apparently nothing 
6. Overly sensitive 
7. Violence 
8. Lacking in concentration 
9. Overtired 
10. Short attention span 
Back to the classroom after lockdown

What can you do about it? 

Start a conversation with the child by telling them that you have noticed they are behaving in a way that is different to how they normally behave, and ask them if they are aware of it 
Don’t ask them if they’re ok, instead ask what happened for them during Lockdown 
Remember that everyone is unique and there is no right or wrong way to feel. Allow them to share their emotions without judgment, criticism, or interruption. It may take a while for children to share their feelings 
If a safeguarding issue arises, make sure you write down your conversation as soon as possible and alert your safeguarding lead 
Acknowledge their feelings without trying to fix them, this will leave the door open for them to trust you to hear their feelings again. 

Learn more about helping children 

When Children Grieve is a definitive guide to helping children really deal with loss from the authors of the Grief Recovery Handbook and founders of the Grief Recovery Institute - available in paperback and as an audiobook on our online shop
Our Helping Children with Loss programme is ACEs informed and was created with the awareness that adverse childhood events can have a permanent impact on a person's wellbeing. It helps improve the confidence of those working with young people to know that they will have the tools to handle the events encountered by the children in their care. It also helps prevent long-term difficulties resulting from unresolved pain in childhood, such as depression, substance abuse, behavioural challenges, struggles in school, anxiety, absenteeism, withdrawal and more. 
If you found this article helpful, head over to our Schools page and download it as a free tips sheet ("Cry for Help") that you can share with others, hang in your staff room or keep in your planner

Have you seen our Top 5 tips for living through lockdown? 

Living Through Lockdown
Get your free copy of our Living Through Lockdown eBook to have all of our tips in a handy, downloadable guide! 
Take a look at our 5-point Plan for how to cope, improve your relationships and start feeling better today: 
Looking to expand your in-depth knowledge? 
Would you like to speak to someone or are considering a Grief Recovery programme? Click here to find an online Specialist who can help you right away
Living Through Lockdown eBook
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