Schools have closed. Work is going remote for many. For some, work has been lost altogether. With all the responsibilities and changes parents are juggling during social distancing, it’s daunting to wonder how to support and protect kids, when the adults don’t necessarily feel secure and protected.
Kids and teens worry about safety and security. They often worry most about the people around them, like friends and family, and not as much about themselves. After all, safety and security, both emotionally and physically, come from caring adults around them.
Adults set the emotional tone for their children. When adults begin to panic, kids will start to panic also. No matter how your family decides to structure their day, or spend time outside, the truth is there is no guidebook for exactly how to deal with this new and uncertain situation during the pandemic. It’s OK to worry and feel unsafe, and at the same time be regulated and help kids navigate through uncomfortable and unfamiliar circumstances.
When a child’s routine is disrupted and they feel worried, it’s common to see some uncharacteristic behaviors. It’s important to understand that kids don’t always have the words to express themselves and their feelings. They need adults to be patient and help them. But how?
Here are 7 strategies for supporting kids during a time when everything seems so uncertain:
Kids will talk when they are ready to talk. It may happen at given time, so be ready to listen when they do talk to you. Hear their worries and questions.
Acknowledge their worries. Validate them, but don’t add to them and make them worse. Their concerns are real. Empathize with children as they share their thoughts, fears, and concerns with you.
Limit their exposure to the news and other media. For older children, this could mean their own social media and TV intake. Younger children are exposed to media through the adults around them. Be careful about the things you say and the way you say them. Children are listening and they will pick up on your fear as well. It’s OK to let them know you are worried too, but limit the amount of exposure they have to facts, new information, projections, etc.
Stick to routines and schedules as much as possible. Kids and adults thrive in structure. Routine creates certainty and security. Make a schedule together of what the day would look like. Keep it flexible and adjust accordingly as things adjust in your home.
Be sure to include hygiene and self-care in their daily routines to help give them a sense of control by taking care of themselves and their health.
Encourage your kids to express their feelings in a creative outlet, such as a journal, drawing, sidewalk chalk, crafts, etc. Kids won’t always have the words to express their feelings to you, but they can often share better by tapping into the creative part of the brain. Emotions live there also!
Work in some type of physical activity every day. Whether it’s exercising at home, dancing, or getting outside to take a walk. Find some way to move together.
Encourage hope by sharing good news, calling or video conferencing with family and friends. Talk about all the good things that are happening to keep people safe and healthy.
There’s no definitive guide for working through the challenges of social distancing and the growing effects on everyday life. Things are changing daily. Keep checking in with your child. Ask them how they are doing, talk about stories they hear and ask them what they think about it.
Above all, remember to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, before assisting those around you. If you are having trouble coping with anxiety or depression due to the uncertainty in a pandemic, help is close! Make an appointment with a therapist who is skilled in helping people manage stress and learn to cope with changing situations.
Redeemed Life Counseling offers a diverse array of services to meet the needs of you and your family! Help is available.
Let’s connect! Call us today to schedule an appointment. 940-222-8552 or email [email protected]
Teen Social Anxiety