While these unprecedented times are alarming and unpredictable for us adults, imagine how it appears to our kids and how they might be struggling to make sense of what is going on around them. No matter how much we may want to shield and protect our children from the reality of the pandemic, most are observant and curious and are bound to have their own set of questions and fears.
So, how can you, as a parent, caregiver or even sibling, help your kids to cope mentally during the pandemic? Here are a few tips:
Be as open as possible with your kids and don’t make the virus a ‘taboo’ topic:
Help your kids to understand the virus and how it is affecting us all, by sharing accurate and fact-based information with them. Even if it upsets you or your kids to bring the subject up, it’s also very hard to ignore it, and by being open about the virus, you can help to distinguish some of those fears. Knowledge might well be power, but perhaps more importantly, it can be intensely reassuring; just be sure to make your information is appropriate to the age of your kids.
Explore health and hygiene with your kids and practice it within the home:
We all know that physical health is often closely related to our mental health, and one way of staying physically healthy, is by following good hygienic practices such as regular handwashing and having a nutritionally balanced diet. Explain why handwashing is so important, talk to your kids about social distancing, and do your best to ensure that they eat as healthily as possible (depending upon the availability of fresh produce).
Try not to encourage them to blame anyone:
It’s only natural that we want someone to be held responsible in such times as these, but rarely is it helpful, and especially not during a pandemic. If your kids are upset or angry that some events they may have been looking forward to are cancelled, or whether they’re simply frustrated that they can’t play outside with their friends anymore, encouraging them not to blame anyone is paramount, instead, and explain why these measures have been taken to protect communities at large.
Be understanding when their behaviour may not be as appropriate as you’d wish:
Whether your kids have mental health issues or not, each will have their own way of emotionally responding to this crisis, and they may not always act, speak or behave in a manner that is wholly appropriate. However, be understanding of this (while still maintaining healthy boundaries), and adapt your expectations to suit the circumstances.
Stick to a routine:
Your routine will undoubtedly have changed during the pandemic but having one can be helpful in establishing a sense of safety and predictability for your kids. For example, get your kids out of bed at the usual time, have meals happen at regular intervals and not in a haphazard fashion, and even create a set time for homework.
Shift your focus to reassuring your kids that things may be different currently, but they won’t always be this way, and until they revert, you can all try to live normal lives, doing a lot of the things that used to happen before the pandemic hit.
Don’t be afraid or ashamed to reach out for professional help if you’re struggling to help your kids get through the health crisis, there are many counselors and therapists available online or by telephone.
Learn More At www.carlscounseling.com