It has been an incredibly challenging time for all of us as the pandemic continues to hit numerous countries around the world. It has affected many families, threatened job security, and overwhelmed health care systems. Many feel the stress and anxiety brought by the uncertainties of the pandemic. Parents now have a definitive role in maintaining a safe and supportive home for their children.
Children may deal with their emotions in different ways. With the schools closing, events getting postponed, or being separated from their friends, they are going to need support as they cope with the sudden changes in their lives. They may not directly express their feelings, but they are facing the same stress, and anxiety parents probably feel these days.
It’s important that in times like this, children feel comfortable sharing their emotions and understand that they are not alone. Here are some ways parents can create an emotionally supportive home for their children amidst the ongoing global crisis:
Inform Your Children Thoroughly
Keeping secrets from your children never helps. It is important to inform children by discussing what is COVID-19 pandemic while engaging them in a calm conversation. Answer their questions truthfully and explain the reasons why they are experiencing unexpected shifts.
Avoid using words that may scare them as they have the same worries just like you have. Creating a relaxed atmosphere can motivate them to tell you if ever they’re not feeling well. You can also comfort your kids by informing them about the generally mild health risks to children and young adults.
Melissa Merrick, Ph.D., and Robert Sege, MD, Ph.D., advised to, “Explain why physical distancing, staying at home, not playing outside with their friends, and canceling school are personal sacrifices that they (and we) make for the good of all of us.” You can also initiate to them a sense of responsibility in keeping everyone safe. Remind your kids that we all must think about the people around us, too and that staying at home can help limit the spread of the virus.
Let Your Children Process Their Feelings
Do not dismiss the emotions of your children. Their issues may feel small to you, but they can be a great deal for your children. While some children may quickly get by with the situation, some may have difficulty dealing with this unique situation. Be supportive of their emotions, help them cope by reminding them that being frustrated is normal. Support them and convey empathy to their problems.
Stick To An Organized Routine At Home
Children can feel the days are passing by if they’re productive throughout the day. You can encourage your family to create a new structured schedule for them to follow daily. Make timetables for their activities so that everyone can monitor them. For example, plan when they should be doing schoolwork, playing, connecting with their friends online, or do chores.
For children aged ten and above, it will be ideal for getting them involved in shaping their day. Ask them about the things they want to prioritize so they can have a sense of ownership of their schedule. Your children can find great relief when there is consistency, predictability, and time management.
Check Where They Are Getting The News
Misinformation on the internet is rampant. When your children take in such news without proper guidance, it may create more panic and induce stress. Check-in with what they hear about the pandemic, and debunk the wrong information they received.
It’s not adequate to give them accurate facts. You must discover what they already grasp and work from there. If you don’t, your children might mix up the misinformation with the truth. Keep a calm demeanor in discussing with your kids the importance of receiving reliable news.
Make Delightful Distractions
To help your kids balance their emotions, welcome new activities that everyone in the family can enjoy. Distractions give your kids relief from feeling stress and unsettled. Have a family game night, make arts and crafts projects, cook meals and exercise together, or do chores.
Encourage Communication From Other People
Communication plays a huge role in regulating children’s moods. Let them use social media to stay connected virtually. It can make them feel less alone during this crisis.
Children model their behavior from their parents. If they feel that you are panicking, they may also feel worried. They rely on you for a sense of balance and security. As much as you’re probably in a state of panic and shock, too, you must manage your anxiety and stress. Your children need you to be reliable, so stay healthy and remain open with your family’s emotional struggles.