As the coronavirus continues and our lives and those of our children remain deeply impacted, you may find yourself looking for ways to manage your own feelings while supporting your child(ren) through the continued uncertainty. Here are some quick tips to help you keep calm while managing the increased stress as you juggle more roles than before and nurture your child(ren) through unprecedented times.
Pay attention to and honor your own feelings. Our children take cues from us. If we are not tending to our own emotional wellbeing, how can we help them feel safe and secure? Find ways to practice self care. This looks different for everyone and can range from an uninterrupted 5 minutes with a cup of coffee to reaching out for support from a therapist.
Keep routines in place when possible and when they make sense for yourself and your family.
Limit media exposure for yourself and your child(ren).
Keep children in the loop. Talk to your children about what is happening in a clear, simple way. Real, concise information delivered by a calm trusted caregiver can greatly decrease a child’s worry and anxiety.
Understand that behavior is a communication. What may appear as challenging behavior may be your child’s way of communicating that they are struggling and need your help to feel safe and secure during this time.
Be gentle with yourself. This is uncharted territory. Parents have been placed in a position to take on roles they never thought they would need to. Families are struggling with loss, financial difficulty, feelings of being overwhelmed just getting through a day and the uncertainty of what tomorrow will bring. At times, our children are feeling this too. Be kind and remember we are all doing the best we can.
Working on the above should allow you to provide a less stressful environment for your children. Children feed off their parent’s attitudes and emotions. Some children may not seem phased by the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t experiencing any internal anxiety. Other children may show their anxiety and worry in clear and obvious ways. However your child may deal with it, here are some things you can do that can be a huge help as they continue to be affected by the pandemic.
Addressing Children’s Fears
Answer questions about the pandemic simply and honestly (and age appropriate). It’s okay to say people are getting sick but explain how we are staying safe and remind them that the things they are doing are the right thing right now.
Show that you understand their feelings. If your child is frustrated or angry about not being able to have a playdate or go somewhere they used to go, let them know it’s okay for them to feel that way and brainstorm ways they can have fun or see friends safely, maybe outdoors or through facetime, or stick with your family’s cohort or bubble if you created one.
Stay connected with friends and loved ones. Maybe your child is worried about a family member or grandparent living alone or at risk. Let them talk to that person more often or facetime. Ease their anxiety by letting them know they can still connect with people and see/hear their voice.
Look ahead and provide a positive outlook. Reassure them that things WILL get better, and there is a vaccine and we have scientists and doctors working hard to help people. Knowing there is good news and hope will help comfort them and ease their worrying.
It is truly a difficult time for everyone and parents are bearing the brunt of it with increased demands, responsibilities and stress. Our incredible team of licensed therapists are always available to talk and help you and your child get through this time. We offer in-person, as well as online therapy sessions at your convenience. You can find more info or book an appointment on our websites www.goodingwellness.com and www.longislandteletherapy.com.
Submitted by Michelle Lavoie, LCSW-R & Gordon Gooding, LCSW-R