The coronavirus has hit the U.S. hard. As of this writing, there have been over 500,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases here in America. Needless to say, these are scary times, especially for kids. This means they will need all the support you can give them. With that in mind, we have prepared a handy guide to help you aid your kids get through the stress.
Set the Emotional Tone
Psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb reminds parents to set the emotional tone at home, which means showing your kids that you are in charge even with all these uncertainties. But that doesn’t mean sacrificing your own physical and emotional needs in the process. Too often, in trying to take charge, parents make the mistake of running themselves ragged. The moment you’re drained physically, your own anxieties will emerge, and even worsen. This will then prevent you from setting that emotional tone. Therefore, you must take care of yourself properly in order to be in the best shape to take care of your kids, as any negative emotions can easily be passed on.
Have Honest Conversations About COVID-19
Your kids will want to know a lot of things about the current situation but don’t wait until they ask to keep them up to date. Instead, follow Dr. Lisa Damour’s advice to be proactive. In particular, Dr. Damour, a psychologist, and mother of two, advises parents to talk to their children about the coronavirus. In these conversations, make sure you explain all about COVID-19, including its symptoms, which include fever, breathing difficulties, coughing, a sore throat, muscle ache, and nasal congestion. Also, discuss COVID-19’s severity, then emphasize what everyone can do to stay safe. This would also be a great time to explain why people are encouraged to stay at home, and why many businesses have been closed. Should your kids have questions, make sure you answer each one factually and truthfully.
Be Informed, But Not Over-Informed
You’ll need to stay informed in this pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you should constantly monitor every single article that gets posted. Parsley Health details how being over-informed can be counterproductive, as news about this pandemic might overwhelm your family and trigger even more feelings of anxiety. What you can do instead is to set aside 10–20 minutes daily (preferably the same time every day) to check on the news. Make sure you follow only trusted news sources, as there is a lot of false and unverified information online. In this case, it would be better to rely on getting your information from the TV rather than social media channels. Keeping track of the virus as a family will be a good way to bond and start conversations about it.
Come Up with Creative Distractions
Your kids will need constant relief during this time. You can give them that relief via creative distractions like games. These creative distractions can also be educational, or even a way for you and your kids to bond. So, for instance, you can exercise every morning, do homeschooling in the afternoon, and play games board games at night. You can even have your kids help you tend the garden or do housework. Crucially, make sure that you can do things together. This will allow you to strengthen your relationship with your children, and preoccupy them (and yourself) at the same time.
Do Mindful MEDS
Finally, you can teach your kids Mindful MEDS and then do it together. WSBT 22 explained how Mindful MEDS, which stands for movement, exhale, drinking water, and squatting down, can help calm the body whenever it is stressed, anxious, or in fear. Perform Mindful MEDS a few times daily as a family to help them and you relax. It will also have a positive mental benefit as you will be doing something proactive for your health.
This is a stressful time as a parent, but by following the above tips you will be able to support your kids through these difficult times.