We cannot go to the park! Camp is canceled! School, sports, and all the activities children have been looking forward to are all canceled. Imagine the continued frustration and confusion a child is facing right now. The times we are in are scary indeed. Parents, caregivers, guardians, god parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents’ all have a unique responsibly of helping the children in their lives navigate through these tough times. We have to keep children positive, encouraged, motivated, and active. It’s definitely an extreme challenge for most parents who are juggling e-learning, activities, household responsibilities, jobs, and health. In the midst of all these things it’s important to keep your child’s emotional stability at the forefront of everything. I would like to share the most important mental health advice I have learned from professionals when caring for your child during this challenging time.
Talk to your children about the Coronavirus and how it’s affecting your lives
It is important to talk to your child about Covid-19. Explain in terms you feel is age appropriate and that they will understand. “Nowhitelies” shared a great video on youtube to help explain the situation to children ages 4-12. Briefly explain what the virus is and how it’s contracted, and what we are doing to stop the spread. Answer your child’s questions and talk through their concerns. Emphasize the positive points! Your child is playing a huge part in stopping the spread by e-learning and staying home. Your child can communicate and play with their friends and relatives virtually. Let your child know this is a situation out of anyone’s control and everyone is going through this together.
Medical professionals also recommend for parents to be transparent and talk to your children about how the virus is impacting you personally and your household. Your love and honesty will encourage them to express their feelings and concerns, and will comfort them in knowing they have your love and support.
Talk to your children more about your past, tell them stories of your upbringing. This will help grow a greater emotional bond with your child. Teach children some history on past viruses and how the world recovered from them. Children will learn more and it will help comfort their minds in knowing the world will recover from the coronavirus soon.
Limit their exposure to the news and social media. News is designed for adult brains and not children. It may cause them to feel fearful and overwhelmed. Filter the necessary information and communicate them to your children.
Parents may start to see increased behaviors of anxiety and depression. Be a positive role model for your children and show them how you manage your stress and emotions. Model your meditation and relaxation exercises. Have open honest conversations with your child to address their fears. If you see prolonged signs of anxiety and depression in your child for more than to weeks medical professionals advise you seek professional help.
Keep your children positively engaged and active.
Create a routine filled with fun learning activities and make sure it’s manageable and not overwhelming for you or your child. Set boundaries and limit the overuse of watching their favorite TV program or playing games. Do your best to stick to a schedule to help you and your child have a sense of stability. Include some together time with your activities, like movie nights, painting, cooking, baking, and even chores together. Incorporate some activities that will help nourish your child’s minds and express their emotions. Exercise, go outdoors, enjoy the fresh air and play games together.
This scary time is causing a profound difference in children’s normal everyday lifestyle and interactions. Do your best to stay aware and mindful of your child’s mental health. Parents and caregivers also need to make themselves a priority. You cannot properly care for your children’s emotions and minds if you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed the majority of the time. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and taking time for yourself as well. Make sure your child’s routines and activities are manageable for everyone. Living through this challenging time can be a wonderful opportunity to connect with your child on many levels. If you are feeling too stressed or overwhelmed or your child is continuously expressing severe behavioral and emotional signs of mental health issues don’t be afraid to reach out for help from professionals. Seeking help doesn’t mean you are not doing your job… it means you are doing your job well. Good luck to all the parents, caregivers, and guardians taking on a huge responsibility of nourishing your child’s minds during this tough time.