Children feel stress and anxiety just like adults! They just express it in different ways. When children express anxiety or fears about the pandemic, there are some things parents can do to help.
Model a positive outlook and be aware of what you discuss in front of your children. Children will take their cues from you.
- Model positive talk about other families and people who make different choices. Make statements like “everyone is doing the best they can right now, and what is best for our family isn’t what is best for everyone”. Don’t model divisive statements
- Stick to a predictable routine and create a calendar or visual where kids can see what the plan for the day is. Create “sameness” in a time of community chaos.
- Build in things to look forward to. These don’t have to be expensive, but just a special time that children can see on their calendars. This could be as simple as Friday movie nights, Taco Tuesdays, or a family scavenger hunt. We all need some tangible hope and joy that we see in the future.
- Have a plan for some “stress relieving” activities when needed. These could include play doh, unstructured play outside, free style art, or something repetitive like making a bracelet out of beads. For older kids/teens it could be taking a walk/jog, playing an instrument, working jigsaw puzzles, or painting.
- Show lots of grace! Your child is not regressing if they have big feelings right now. You might see an increase in temper tantrums or even behavior issues with teens. Children don’t always know how to appropriately channel their fears and disappointments. Show an extra portion of patience and understanding as we all work through this together!
Rachel Ashcraft, OTR/L