How to Emotionally Support Your Kids through the COVID-19 Pandemic
There's no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruptions to our daily lives. But through all the mess, children tend to be overlooked, the very people who are feeling these changes the most. During this trying time, kids can feel stressed and anxious, causing their hormones to wreak havoc on their bodies and emotions. The good news is there are plenty of ways to help them.
Here are tips to help your children navigate some of the complicated emotions they may be facing during this time.
Talk about their fears
As a parent, you play an essential role in helping your child make sense of the unprecedented situation in a way that is honest, accurate, and minimizes fear. Having an open discussion can be difficult, but it helps them have a firmer grasp of what's happening, relieve some of their worries, and makes them feel safe. This will help them cope and move forward.
Do your best to encourage your kids to talk about their worries, so they are not bottling things up. Remind them that what they're feeling is valid, and help them to maintain a hopeful outlook for the future. It will also help if you tell them that other people are working tirelessly to make the situation temporary as this will give them a sense of safety.
Manage their media consumption
Just like you get overwhelmed when you're bombarded with too much negative media, your child can also feel added stress and anxiety when surrounded by negative news. It's best to limit the amount of screen time they have that is focused on COVID-19, whether it's TV or social media. Instead, encourage them to engage in other stimulating activities or hobbies that they find enjoyable.
Part of managing their media consumption is also assuring them not everything they hear, watch, or read on television on the internet is accurate. You may even want to teach them where to find factual information should they need it. This will not only help reduce their anxiety with the state of the world, but it can make you feel at ease as well.
Maintain a routine
The pandemic has disrupted just about everything, especially our daily routines. It makes it all the more important than ever to regain a sense of order and normalcy, as it helps offer reassurance during a very uncertain time. All children, including teens, benefit from routines that are predictable yet flexible enough to accommodate their individual needs.
Help your child structure the day by establishing new schedules. If your children are learning remotely, try breaking up schoolwork when possible, so it doesn’t become too tedious. Assist them in creating wake-up routines, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and maybe some active play in the morning before transitioning into schoolwork. Make sure they also have plenty of time for exercise, online social time with friends, and homework. At night, it would be best if you had family time so your child would feel supported.
Know when to seek professional help
If your child is really struggling it may be time to get help. Don’t worry, they are not alone in finding this time very challenging. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions revealed that the pandemic caused a historic wave of mental health problems, with 2 in 5 US residents struggling with mental or behavioural health issues. Before the pandemic, it was best to address these mental issues by visiting a clinic. But since remote sessions have become more common, psychologists have become more accessible online, to both children and adults.
There are many people who can help and you may initially find it hard to find a professional within your budget. This is why you should cast as wide a net as possible in your search. For instance, don’t be apprehensive about professionals with online qualifications. The good news is established universities now offer psychology degrees online, and many courses include child psychology in their programs. Individuals who have taken an online psychology degree have learnt the foundations of human development, social psychology, and clinical psychology, as well as “newly recognized connections between mental health and learning success”. This makes them just as well versed in offering mental and behavioural healthcare for individuals, families, and communities as those with more traditional degrees. These psychologists can guide your child if they're going through a tough time, and thanks to easier access to these professionals, many of who are already trained to respond virtually, you won't have a problem booking a remote session to keep your child safe.
These are tough times and whether you do it yourself or through a professional, you must emotionally support your child.
KidAtHeart is a mother of two adventurous boys that love summer outings, so she knows the ins and outs of health and safety in the great outdoors. Although she can't quite keep up with how active her sons are, she says spending time with them keeps her fit and a kid at heart.