Tips For Parents
These are astonishing times. Many of us are experiencing some anxiety, fears, or anticipation about all that is happening with the virus and with the recent earthquakes, social distancing closures and so forth. Children tend to be extra vulnerable because they see and notice everything and absorb these fears, but children are not very good interpreters of information. The following are a few ideas of things we can do for our children to help them through these difficult times.
1. With your children, focus on what is good. Reassure them that we did have an earthquake, but we are all safe and nobody is hurt, or now we get to spend special time together. Focusing on the good can help our children put the things happening around them in perspective and increase a sense of security.
2. We all have been thrown off of our routines. A routine may not always be fun, but it does increase a sense of control and security. When sleep, eating, or exercise patterns are off, we become more vulnerable to emotions, meltdowns, outbursts, irritably, and so forth. Going to bed on time may not seem like a big deal, but it can help. As we are more predictable, we show our children that we can get through this together.
3. We are all flooded with fears for our loved ones and especially our children. These fears are normal, but the more we can regulate our emotions, the better we are able to help our children. One thing that can help is to try to not to think too far forward about things that we have no control over. Worrying about things outside of our control, it is like hitting our heads against a wall which does not hurt the wall, but we are hurt and distressed. This in no way is saying do not take reasonable precautions, but rather to focus on what we do know and what we can do, not what we don’t know or cannot change. Stop and ground on what is happing right here now. One of the best ways to help our children is to model good emotion regulation skills. Take time to breath, listen to music, mediate, do yoga, make crafts, or go for a walk or a hike. Where possible do these things together with your kids.
4. Finally, when we are stressed, we tend to isolate, but when we isolate our thoughts run rampant and our fears and anxiety often gets worse. Take time to just be with and play with your kids. They will remember how we reacted long after the aftershocks have stopped and the illness has run it’s course. Try to have fun and to make this a positive memorable time for our kids.