**NEW December 22nd 2021** COVID-19


Tweenager’s Satisfaction

by the Dr Peter Brierley

According to its website, the Children’s Society “fights for the hope and happiness of young people”. It seeks to do this in part by assessing quality research of others, as well as undertaking research itself. Once a year, it produces The Good Childhood Report, and the most recent issue tracks trends over the last 10 years of the satisfaction that tweenagers (aged 10-15 years) have with life, friends, school and their appearance. 

The survey found that many, perhaps a quarter, of children did not cope well with the changes forced on them by the pandemic.  That will include some church children, and if the proportion is the same for them that would mean 160,000 tweenagers in English churches and 18,000 in Scottish churches.

However, while it is easy to suggest the downward life satisfaction trend is because of the pandemic, in reality the various trends have been broadly consistent over the last decade. Furthermore, some years the satisfaction value increases, though never simultaneously across all items. There is also a clear ‘pecking order’ in tweenagers’ concerns with friends coming clearly at the top, followed by life as a whole, then school and then appearance. 


Three simple tips for staying argument free in your family this Christmas

For many of us, the lure of a ‘perfect’ Christmas lurks in our subconscious. Advertisers play into this desire for serving the best food, the home looking super cosy and festive and everyone wonderfully ‘suited and booted’.

The reality of Christmas is, of course, always different. It often involves anxiety, tensions and arguments in between the stockings and the crackers.

The pressures may be even greater after last year’s Christmas in lockdown and the threat of shortages this year. So here are three simple tips to help you avoid some of the stress and have a happier time as a family this Christmas.

Firstly, share – and maybe reset – some of your expectations with family members. It’s so easy to go on autopilot, and play the usual roles at Christmas, whatever they look like in your family. This often leaves one person – often Mum – carrying the burden of it all.

Instead, sit down for a few minutes with your other half and talk about your expectations. What would both of you like your celebration to be, and what don’t you both want to happen? Having this kind of simple conversation gets a lot into the open and will enable you to plan together and share ideas too.

Secondly, be proactive. If you’re the one who generally organises and does the shopping, wrapping, cooking etc, be proactive and ask for help and support. You may have to accept that others do things differently, and maybe not up to your standards, but a team effort gets everyone involved as well as spreading the load (even sulky teenagers will usually do their bit when asked.)

If you’re the partner of the chief organiser, then be proactive in offering support. Tip: instead of saying: “Do you need any help?” (Where the answer is often “I’m ok…”) Ask: “What can I do to help today?”

Thirdly, deal with the little things before they become big things. Our natural ways of handling conflict often work against us, and instead make conflict worse. Conflict avoiders will try to avoid awkward conversations and get prickly and defensive. The rhinos will charge in and shout. Whether you’re more like a hedgehog or rhino in an argument, try instead to nip problems in the bud by recognising your own rising feelings and finding positive solutions together: “I’m feeling upset about …what can we do differently?” 

Christine Daniel is a speaker and blogger for FamilyLife UK, developer of the Toucan Together resource.  Toucan Together is a relationship wellness app for couples that covers friendship, intimacy, resolving conflict, love language, and money management.  Visit it at www.toucantogether.com


How to hug somebody

The perfect hug should last between five to ten seconds, and it should be done with your arms criss-crossed behind the other person’s back.

That is the finding of psychologists who experimented using more than 100 pairs of friends. They found that when it comes to hugging someone, “more is definitely more.”

It seems that a ten second hug gives great pleasure, a five second hug is adequate, but a brief hug of just one second leaves nobody comforted.

Even worse, since Covid, elbow bumping has become popular. But a bump on the elbow doesn’t do much for anyone.

The research was done at the University of London and the University of Bristol. 


Open your window

When you have friends come to visit you, open the window for ten minutes of every hour that they stay. It will help to reduce the level of any Covid particles that may be in the air. 

As one medical officer for England explained: “People with Covid release virus particles into the air whenever they speak, breath, or cough. These can linger in unventilated settings. So, it’s vital to open windows, to keep the air moving and help prevent infections.”


Covid hits life expectancy levels

Covid has caused the biggest drop in life expectancy in Western Europe since the Second World War. More than five million people have died worldwide after getting infected.

When academics studied death rates from 29 countries, which included most of Europe as well as the US, they found that life expectancy has decreased in 27 of them.

Covid’s impact in Eastern Europe has been found to be more detrimental to life expectancy there than the fall of the Eastern Bloc in the late 1980s. In England and Wales, the team calculated those babies born in 2020 now have a life expectancy of up to 1.15 years less than if they were born in 2019. The largest decline is in the US, where it has declined by up to 2.2 years, compared with 2019 levels.


Visit the C of E online page

There is now a range of digital resources for to you connect with God at this difficult time.  These include:

Time to Pray app (https://www.chpublishing.co.uk/apps/time-to-pray) which is free and has an accompanying daily audio offering on SoundCloud and iTunes.

Mental health reflections (https://www.churchofengland.org/faith-action/mental-health-resources/supporting-good-mental-health)

Tips to tackle isolation (https://www.churchofengland.org/faith-action/mental-health-resources/dealing-loneliness-and-isolation-five-top-tips)

Finally, there are the Church’s smart speaker apps, which provide a range of Christian resources.  https://www.churchofengland.org/our-faith/our-smart-speaker-apps  In March alone, the number of people using the Alexa app rose by more than 70 per cent.

More details at:  https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/church-online