Staying regulated as parents is the most important way that we can ease anxiety in our children. This is not easy to do during this overwhelming and uncertain time. The COVID-19 pandemic has created anxiety in all of us. Anxiety wears us down both physically and mentally, making it difficult to sleep, eat, and pay attention. It can lead to overreaction and irrational decisions. We want to manage our anxiety for our wellbeing through this difficult time, so we can stay present for our children, especially as we embark on having much more down time at home with them in the coming weeks.
Here are some ways to take care of yourself:
- Assess your level of engagement with media sources. Is it supportive, healthy, helpful? Is it causing you more anxiety? Notice how you feel after viewing social media or the news. It may be more beneficial to select one or two accurate sources of information that you check periodically (not continually). And stay grounded in the facts.
- Find ways to keep yourself busy when your children are occupied. Perhaps consider getting to those unfinished projects around the house. Make a to-do list for yourself and check it off.
- Do something just for you each day. It could be a longer shower, reading a book, listening to a guided meditation, taking a walk, yoga, mindfully enjoying a warm drink, etc.
- If you are getting caught up in worried thinking, ground yourself in the here and now with this simple technique. Name 5 things you see. 4 things you feel. 3 things you hear. 2 things you smell. 1 deep breath.
- Stay connected with friends using through phone and video calls.
Here are some ways to reduce/minimize your child’s anxiety:
- Avoid having adult conversations around your child about COVID-19. Protect your child from the news by not having it on or talking about it around them.
- Keep your answers to their questions simple and honest. A good rule of thumb is to not provide any more information than what they are asking for.
- Acknowledge and validate their worries, fears and disappointments. Dr. Bryson expands on how to do this here: https://www.tinabryson.com/news/coronavirus-talking-points-for-parents-amp-teachers-with-the-whole-brain-child-approach
Here are some tips for managing more at-home-time with your children:
- Create a routine! We cannot emphasize the importance of this enough as routines create structure and predictability for everyone. You want to have a daily plan for what your children will do each day and post it for them to see. You can include wake up/bedtime, mealtimes, reading time, math time, screen time, play time, exercise time, outside time, bath time, etc.
- Use this extra time at home to connect more with your kids. Connection is good for all of us! Build it into the daily schedule to have a family dance party, play cards, board games, puzzles, etc. Bake, cook, craft and draw with them. Build forts and read stories together.
- Make a plan for daily fun exercise.
- Have face times and phone calls with friends and family. Stay connected. Plan face time dates for your kids.
Remember that things will not go perfectly at home for any family. Be kind to yourself.
~The Team at Growing Roots Therapy
A link to a great story by Julia Cooke to help explain what it going on to young children: