Updated: Nov 29, 2020
What a hectic week we’ve had in the United States. The coronavirus is here and the world has gone upside down. The World Health Organization declared a pandemic, The President banned flights to and from Europe, Italy closed its borders, and many of the schools are shutting down as I’m writing this.
Our children are aware of this unusual time we’re experiencing. We can’t expect them to be in a bubble not noticing of what’s going on. With the schools shutting down and not being able to go out from home, it will not be surprising that many of them can experience some anxiety. Here are some tips that may help your child to overcome anxiety induced by these uncertain times.
1.- Start with yourself.
Your children rely on you as their source for understanding the world. If you are scared, they will be scared. If you remain calm they will follow your calmness. You can help yourself by practicing meditation and mindfulness. Even a short 5 min. meditation during your day can help. Talking with friends, journaling, coloring, practicing yoga and reiki, are other ways to relieve stress.
2.- Accept the as is.
Trying to resist the fact that you’re staying at home with the kids will bring bitterness, anxiety and even anger. Accept the fact that world is living through this situation and that life will change for a while. Not resisting will take out an extra source of stress. Remember: everything will pass.
3.- Explain the situation within their own level of understanding.
It’s better that children hear from you the facts, and not hysteria and misinformation from others. Small children (5 and under) don’t really need to understand the magnitude of the situation. You can just keep it fun with a washing your hands game and explaining them not to touch their face. With older children, explain the situation in a calm way, with facts and with understandable words. Keep things in perspective and do your work prior if you’re dealing with fear and anxiety yourself. Stay calm and don’t transmit this energy to your child. With teenagers we can see this as an opportunity of discussion of community sense, helping others, psychological fear, etc.
4.- Avoid over exposure to media and social media.
Fear sells a lot, and the media wants to sell. Hearing the same thing over and over again will generate anxiety. Children sometimes cannot understand all the words and context they hear. If this happens, they tend to fill the gaps with their own thoughts and could end up believing a whole different story. Keep yourself informed from official government and community resources. And if you consider it absolutely necessary, be yourself the one that gives this information to your child.
5.- Try to have access to nature.
If your community is not in quarantine, try going in to nature at least once a day. The beach, the forest, your local park are some great natural sources. If you’re in quarantine, try spending time in your back or front yard, grounding your feet for a while. If you’re in an apartment, at least try to be mindful while watering your plants, try getting sun from your window and opening them for fresh air. This will bring wellbeing to your body and mind.
6.- Dancing and movement.
A 2014 study found that dancing gives a general feeling of wellbeing. It generates endorphins which gives us a sense of happiness. Turn on your child’s favorite song and dance with them. It will not only give you relaxation, but it will as well, make a connection between the child and you. A nice app you can find in Roku for some dance moves and exercises is “Go noodle”.
7.- Keep it fun! Is time to play!
This is a good time to get out of the old trunk our board games! Cards, monopoly and puzzles are all fun ideas. Also physical play like pillow fights, soft balls and hide and seek, are a fun way to move around the house. Let’s see this as an opportunity of connection with our children.
8.- Try to see the positive and be grateful.
As difficult, hard and fearful this time might be; we can always find something to be grateful for. Having a home, being together, having food, having internet, having games, computers and devices are some things that we can make our children aware of. Simple things during a day: a laugh, a teaching, a hug can also be sources of gratefulness. Let’s try to set this kind of positive thinking, setting our mind in the small little blessings.
· Cohen, Lawrance Ph.D. The Opposite of Worry. Ballentine Books. 2013
· Edwards, Allison LPC. Why Smart Kids Worry. Sourcebooks. 2013
· Let’s dance- feel better! https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17461391.2014.969324
· Go Zen. Help Kids Manage Anxiety Around the Coronavirus. https://gozen.com/coronavirus-anxiety/