There is no argument that COVID-19 has changed our lives. We are stuck in the house, some facing extreme hardships and endless new information is streaming on all media and social platforms. Schools have shut down and are operating remotely, while homeschooling is the new normal at homes across the nation. There are no sporting events, no theme parks open and no playdates to be made. From a child’s perspective, basically FUN has been cancelled! It probably doesn’t feel that much different as an adult either, so it’s no wonder we are all stressed and riddled with anxiety.
As parents there are simple steps that we can implement to reduce the anxiety in our children who may be having a harder time handling these changes. First, as parents and caregivers, we must ease our own concerns. Kids will pick up on our energy and fears. It’s important for us to lead by example and stay calm, even in these trying times. The steps below are easy to follow. By doing the steps together they will help calm the anxiety your child is experiencing and quite possibly the anxieties you are experiencing as well.
Step 1: Keep it Simple, but do EXPLAIN.
One way to ease anxiety in children is to keep them in the loop. Give them simple explanations of what is happening and what the new changes will be. This will be different for each child, based on physical age, maturity and how sensitive they with processing certain types of information.
For most, anxiety is stress of the unknown. Think of it like this, what if you never knew what was going to happen the next day. Everyday you woke to get ready to go to work as if it was your very first day on the job. Think of all the physical and emotional changes that take place the 24 hours before the start of a new job. You are up all night thinking about the what-if’s, butterflies in your stomach, eating or not eating because of a nervous belly, tension headache because of hours of ruminating thoughts, questioning your confidence and hoping your coworkers like you.
Giving our children information in the doses they can process gives them power!
Knowing the facts can help reduce stress and take them out of fight or flight. They can find a sense of comfort when they know what to expect. Ask them what they are worried or afraid of, acknowledge those feelings and take them through the expectations of the following day or week.
Step 2: Establish a routine.
Whether we would like to think so or not, we are all creatures of habit and crave certainty.
Kids are no different. Change and transitions may impact each child differently and in varying degrees, but it is still extremely important to stick to a routine. Wake up, brush teeth, get dressed, eat breakfast and so on. Keeping up with a daily routine is one of the most powerful tools to implement when creating a sense of “normal” for our children.
Step 3: Commit to self-care
We wouldn’t argue that kids need a good night sleep. We need to also prioritize the importance of good healthy foods and physical play or exercise. All are just as important as the next for