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Kate Middleton admits lockdown has been 'difficult' as she shares frustrations

The Duchess of Cambridge spoke to children during their school assembly

Emily Nash

The Duchess of Cambridge made it her mission to spread a little kindness as she spoke about the subject in a special school assembly based on that theme. Kate urged pupils to share problems with a friend and be kind to someone in need as she delivered the online session from her Anmer Hall home in Norfolk.

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"Talking to someone, whether it's a friend, family member, or teacher, is something you can do to make yourself feel that little bit better," she said. "And you can also play your part in helping others to feel better too, whether offering a friendly ear, or helping someone in need.

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"Small acts of kindness can go such a long way. But as we help others, we mustn't forget to nurture ourselves, by taking the time to focus on the things that make us feel happy too."

The Duchess gave the weekly assembly at Oak National Academy, an online classroom set up to support teachers and parents during lockdown. Every Thursday morning, the academy, in collaboration with TES, hosts assemblies for students across the UK, allowing them to experience the normal routine of a school environment.

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"Small acts of kindness can go such a long way," said Kate

She told youngsters: "We all have our ups and downs, especially when things change in our lives as they have in so many ways recently. This can cause us to have a huge range of different feelings. Sometimes these feelings may be good, but sometimes they may be uncomfortable, and we feel worried, angry or upset.

"Being unable to see your friends or spend time with your family will undoubtedly be frustrating for you, just as it is for them. It's been a really difficult time for us all. But it's important to know that these feelings and frustrations are totally normal, and that they won't last forever."

 

WATCH: Kate speaks to children about kindness and looking after each other

And she added: "As we help others, we mustn't forget to nurture ourselves by taking the time to focus on the things that make us feel happy too. This might be playing our favourite game, being outside, or talking to our friends. They all help with our mental wellbeing. Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today. Look after yourselves, reach out when you need help, and do your part to support those in need."

For part of the assembly, the Duchess joined a video call to Waterloo Primary Academy in Blackpool, speaking to pupils whose parents have been working on the frontline during the coronavirus pandemic. "Who wants to tell me what kindness means?" she asked. "Treat people how you want to be treated?" said Talia Francis, nine.

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"We all have our ups and downs, especially when things change in our lives," said Kate

"Absolutely. If you want people to be kind and nice to you, you have to be kind and nice to other people back. Very good. Has anyone else got other ideas?" Kate replied. "Sharing, that's kindness," said Dexter Warren, six. "Absolutely!" Kate said. "Sharing your time and sharing your toys and sharing your friendship, all of those things count. You're absolutely right."

"We need to tidy up after ourselves," said Olivia Jackson, aged eight. "That's another one!" said Kate. "That's being really helpful isn't it and helping out at home." Hearing how Leo Clark, five, and Dexter have helped with the washing, she told them: "Fantastic. Well done you for being so considerate of your parents and helping them out. And what do you think...if a friend of yours is really kind to you, how does that make you feel?" "Really happy," the children answered.

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The mum-of-three wore an M&S patterned dress

"It's true isn't it," said Kate. "So many times when we do things for other people, it makes us feel really good about ourselves. And so what other things do you do that makes you feel good about yourselves?" Told Olivia had made a rainbow cake for the NHS with Smarties in the centre, Kate told her: "You should feel really proud."

The Duchess also admired photographs of the children making rainbows out of PE equipment, tidying up the art and craft supplies, handing out dinners and sharing their toys – all taken for her Hold Still photography project to document life during lockdown. "And have you all been doing rainbow pictures as well?" she asked. "Such a small act of kindness can go such a long way."

Kate's Assembly was based on a lesson plan from the Mentally Healthy Schools website and developed in collaboration with the charity Place2Be, of which she is patron. Headteacher Mark Hamblett said of the children: "I couldn't be more proud of them. The last few months and weeks have been so difficult to navigate, and the children have been incredible. "The way they were able to interact with the Duchess was just fantastic - off camera I was beaming with pride.

"They almost feel now that they are ambassadors for kindness and I would love to see that they continue as those kindness champions. It was a moment none of us will never ever forget."

The Oak National Academy has put a huge focus not only on curriculum lessons but also social and emotional support for children. Among other charitable contributers is Jamie's Farm, who counts the Duchess of Cornwall as a patron, and has been running weekly pastoral provisions from its four rural locations in Wiltshire, Herefordshire, Monmouthshire and Sussex, including virtual farm tours and therapeutic check-ins. Jamie's Farm Deputy CEO Jake Curtis says, "This is a remarkable initiative led by some of the country's best teachers."