SEN – How to help your child? - Mental Health & Wellbeing Show

SEN – How to help your child?

Special Education Needs (SEN) describe learning difficulties or disabilities that make it more difficult for children to learn than most of their peers of the same age. The impact they have on children’s mental health can require more attention. Children and young people with Special Education Needs can be at higher risk of mental health difficulties than children without them, so it’s important to be aware of how we can help.

As much as SEN can cause or magnify mental health issues, it can also originate from already existing mental health conditions. Recently, the pandemic has exacerbated mental health issues among children and young people. It is even more important now, in the post-pandemic era, to emphasize the importance of mental health to maintain children’s wellbeing and support their needs.

How can you help?

1. Create a routine

A change in routine often causes anxiety in children, especially in those with SEN. It is important to create a routine for your child and to include them in your daily routine and do things together.

You could create ‘Now and Next’ board to show your kids with pictures what’s happening now and what you will be doing next. A visual timetable is also a great and creative way to plan your child’s day. Let them know what to expect and allow them to introduce some changes. Encourage creativity!

2. Help your child express their feelings

Be creative with explaining feelings to your child. You can use pictures, colours, and sounds to associate specific feelings to them to help your child understand and express them. You can also buy emotion cards, but it would be even better to create them with your child!

3. Try activities together

Activities can help to give your children the space and time to express their feelings. Children with SEN will benefit from a variety of activities from which they can choose the ones that work best for them. Observe your children to see whether they benefit more from short-time activities or from longer, more involving activities.

Don’t feel pressured to create an endless list of activities. Repetition is equally important! Practical, fun activities which involve different senses can be the most engaging, but you also need to bear in mind that your child might need a quiet space after activity time.

Remember that children with SEN can often be overwhelmed and feeling anxious so the best way to ease their stress is spending time together, letting them know you’re there for them and encourage their creativity. Keep reassuring them that their opinion is important to you but, at the same time, don’t make them decide. Flexibility, understanding, and openness are the key to ease your child’s stress

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