One of the hardest things as of late for families around the world is how they have been able to adapt to the perimeters put upon them from the Coronavirus. Things seem to be changing on a daily, if not—an hourly—basis. As adults, we have tried our best to put on a brave face and go with the flow as best as we can; changing how we work, how we shop, how we communicate, how we stayed entertained, and even how we greet (or talk to) loved ones. Here are as some ways to help an anxious child through these times.
Adults are not the only folks being affected by all of these changes. The Coronavirus has made children change the routines and lifestyle they are accustomed to. Some children (just like some adults) amaze us at their ability to roll with the punches. But this is not all children, and as caretakers and parents, we have to acknowledge our youth’s struggles to help with it.
- Acknowledge what is Happening: Validating the recent changes to your child’s life can make all the difference. It can help to make a list of things that have stayed the same (dinner every night at the table, still getting tucked in, being able to play in the backyard, being able to talk to their teachers) and making a list of things that have changed (attending festivities digitally instead of in person, going to school virtually, how close or far we have to stay away from people). By acknowledging their feelings, it will make them feel less alone, because they will know that they are not the only one that is noticing that things are not how they were, even just a few weeks ago.
- Deal with your Own Anxiety before Tackling your Children’s: Children pick up on much more than we give them credit for. Because they learned to read emotions before verbal communication, they are incredible at picking up on their parents’ emotions. Process how you feel about things and try to figure out how you are coping with those feelings, before talking to your child about them. It is ok to tell your children that you do not know the answers to certain things or that sometimes, you feel scared too. But try to go in calmly to discuss how you are doing in the situation. Think about it like riding on an airplane, they always tell you to put on your own air mask before helping others with theirs. This is not a selfish or self-serving tip, but rather, it is pertinent advice: if you are breathing properly, you can save a lot more individuals.
- Teach children Mindfulness Techniques: Teaching your child how to be mindful of their tension, and what to do about it, can be extraordinarily helpful during these times. For mindfulness tips, there are several resources online. The University of Washington made a template for you to read to your children to help them practice muscle relaxation. There are also several free online videos to aid you on Youtube or on other sources like GoZen.
- Create a Visual Schedule: Having a predictable environment can make all the difference for a child, especially if that child is prone to anxiety. One way to help your children feel less anxious is to create a visual routine for them to see depicting the routine of the day to day. It doesn’t need to be complex or elaborate. It can be as simple as four-six things you do on a daily basis, such as eating meals, story time, bedtime, etc. Having the visual will remind your child that there is still a schedule, and therefore, some consistency, throughout their days and weeks.
Times can be tough, but having a plan in place can make things easier on both you and your little ones. Make sure you are taking care of yourself as well, and remember that there are several resources online and in person if you need help or guidance with this and other issues brought on the Coronavirus. Please always feel free to contact us if you are in need of assistance or need help looking for resources.