Key Protective Factors


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What are some key protective factors for child mental health and wellbeing?


Research has identified a range of different factors that can support resilience and wellbeing in children during challenging times. Below are a number of different areas where school supports can have a positive impact.

Exercise

Staying active can help children manage feelings of stress and supports their emotional wellbeing. Taking the time to head outside for a walk or active play each day will have positive impacts on their emotions and behaviour. Daily trips outdoors may also be a great time to practice mindfulness.

Active play also has an important role in helping children meet their energy, emotional and social needs. Consider ways in which physical activity and active play can be incorporated into the school day (e.g. short dramas to act out part of a story, incorporating movement into maths activity).

For strategies to help a child with a disability or developmental challenge to stay active visit AllPlay Dance and AllPlay Footy.

Social connections

With social distancing, many children will have experienced feelings of isolation and loneliness. Consider ways in which your school can promote social connections between children, such as opportunities for group work in the classroom, and fun lunchtime activities. Children will have had fewer opportunities to practise social skills during restrictions. Increased supports, therapy and opportunities to practise and engage with peers may be particularly important for children with autism, intellectual disability or anxiety.

You may read more about supporting social connections in children:

Secure, respectful and reciprocal relationships

Research has consistently shown that having secure, respectful and reciprocal relationships can help children thrive when faced with adversities (including family financial stress, health challenges, and trauma). Your relationship with your students can make a big difference, no matter what a child might be facing during this time. Providing positive affirmation and setting boundaries using a friendly tone can help children feel safe during this time.

Consider how you can help children with learning to identify, express and regulate their emotions (AllPlay Learn emotion cards and strategies can help with this). You could also practice mindfulness or relaxation breathing together. Experiencing difficulties when trying to solve a problem can often cause frustration or outbursts. Our problem-solving guide for children is a great tool for helping children to understand their difficulties whilst brainstorming potential solutions.

Link to AllPlay Learn's emotions cards
Emotion cards
Link to AllPlay Learn's Problem Solving Guide
Problem solving guide
AllPlay Learn relaxation breathing script instructions for teachers thumbnail
Relaxation breathing script

Fun and relaxing activities

During times of stress, it is critical for children to have periods in the day where they can engage in play or activities they enjoy. Consider scheduling additional ‘fun’ breaks into the school day or integrating fun/play into school activities. Minimising homework during this time may also be beneficial for children. Opportunities for children to re-tell or communicate their experiences through role plays, dramatic play, books about emotions, and song and dance activities can help children process any stressful or distressing experiences they may have had during this time.

Routine

A consistent routine can provide children with a sense of stability and continuity during times of stress.

Here you will find some tips on how to help a child cope with disruptions to routine.

Disruptions to routine
Tips for coping with disruptions to routine