The COVID-19 pandemic is causing stress around the world and our kids are affected by it as much as anyone, particularly around social distancing and remote learning. Below are some tips to help your child feel safe and calm in the world today.
Maintain structure and routine.
Kids feel safe when their environment is structured and they know what is happening next. This is most important when they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Maintaining mealtimes and bedtimes and keeping rules and limits consistent is important in helping kids feel safe. Even though daily life may seem constantly in flux, focus on what you can control.
Minimize and monitor their access to media.
Young children are less able to recognize what’s real and what’s acting or repeated news footage of an event happening in the world. Minimizing our children’s access to the news will help them feel safer and more secure and decrease overwhelm and excessive worry.
Avoid offering false promises about the end of the pandemic, and remind them of all the people looking out for them and connecting with them now.
Keeping in mind your child’s age and developmental stage, try to be as open and honest as you can about the pandemic. Rather than offering false reassurances, try to highlight ways they are safe and focus on what you can do together at home now. Continue to remind them of good hygiene practices and engage in those activities together.
Teach and model self-care:
One of the very best things we can do for our kids is to prioritize ourselves and take care of ourselves! Since parents’ brains are literally hard-wired to meet our children’s needs before our own, it’s crucial to take a step back and remember that we need to prioritize ourselves sometimes as well. The pandemic has been exceptionally hard on parents, so give yourself a break.
Identify and model using tools to manage stress:
When you exercise or listen to music, you may well be using stress management techniques without even realizing it! Note ways you and your family deal with stress—both the healthy and not-so-healthy. Point this out to your kids. Our kids can benefit from learning new tools to manage stress, and they will feel empowered when they recognize the skills they already have.
The Center for Children and Youth offers virtual parenting guidance, online workshops, and teletherapy for children and teens. If you or your family needs additional support, schedule a parent consultation today.