Everything is different right now. That’s what I keep telling my boyfriend’s son as we struggle through our new daily routine. For kids, the Coronavirus comes with a lot of uncertainty, and if we’re not careful as parents to help them process this uncertainty — there’s anxiety, too.
Although it may seem that your child is coping or unconcerned with what’s happening right now, there may be feelings of fear under the surface. Here are a few simple, yet powerful ways to help ease your child’s anxiety during the quarantine.
1. Keep Your Child In the Know
As parents, we’re sometimes afraid to clue our children into the details because we don’t want to overwhelm or scare them. While there’s no reason to share every news article with your child (especially if the sources haven’t been verified), it is important to be transparent about the ways the virus will change their daily lives. (For example, anything related to school closures, play dates, or going outside would be relevant and important.)
Sharing this information is really all about the approach. As much as possible, you’ll want to be calm and straightforward. You’ll want to try to empathize with your child’s feelings and encourage him or her that even though things are different, you will get through the changes together.
2. Label Anxious Thoughts as Emotions, Not Truths
An important way to ease your child’s anxiety is to remind him or her that they’re feeling something, and it’s okay to feel. But just because there’s something being felt, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true or happening.
One way to help explain this is through an intimate object or toy. You can say something like, “John Cena’s feeling nervous about how the quarantine will keep him from wrestling his opponents” or “Princess Allie is feeling sad about missing her friends during the virus.” Although it may seem silly, this will help (especially younger children), understand that everyone has emotions — and emotions are okay.
But emotions aren’t always facts, and labeling them for what they are will help create an important distinction.
3. Try Movement
Movement is an excellent way to help with feelings of fear or anxiety. Whether that’s taking a walk with your child, doing an online PE class, dancing in the kitchen while you make dinner, or even doing a workout video with you, find ways to naturally insert motion and movement into your day.
Here are a few other kid-friendly ideas:
GoNoodle for Exercise & Mindfulness:
GoNoodle is a great resource for meditation and calming down, but it can be used for exercise, too! There are options for dancing and jumping (optional in-home PE class?!)
Try Kids Yoga:
Kids yoga can be a blast! There are so many options online, but find one that is of interest to your child. Here’s one that’s simple (for younger ages) ↓
Or, you can get advanced with this Mulan-themed cosplay yoga video!
5. Monitor Your Child’s Social Media Intake
Social media, although great for keeping your child connected, can unconsciously evoke fear, especially if your child is always taking in content related to the Coronavirus. Be sure that you’re monitoring (to some extent) what he or she is doing when online.
Offer opportunities for reliable sources, too, so that if he or she is curious, there is a credible site available to learn more. (Rather than browsing blogs and forums that may or may not be truthful.)
6. Help Your Child Stay In Touch with Peers
Providing a means of normalcy in your child’s socialization is crucial, especially during the quarantine. If your child’s school offers distance learning opportunities, see if you can connect with the parents of your child’s peers to set up a video chat or virtual “homework date.”
7. Create Consistency When Possible
The lack of structure during this time may be a huge obstacle for your child. If possible, try to create a routine or schedule to help navigate the day. Although you don’t have to stick perfectly to it, having the foundation can help you and your child be on the same page. (This is especially important if you’re trying to navigate school at home, too!)
8. Help Your Child Stay Grounded & Mindful
Self-regulation is one of the biggest challenges for kids (of all ages). And honestly, for adults, too! You can help ease your child’s anxiety by offering healthy outlets for stress and frustration: punching bag, pillow fight, freedom to cry, expressing healthy anger through screaming, etc.
If you model appropriate behaviors and mindful language, you can shape how your child reacts to certain situations, too! While you don’t want to hide your emotions from your child, if you need a moment away from them to process something heavy, give yourself the freedom to do that! Breaks in the day will help your child stay mindful of his or her emotions as well.
9. Develop Calming Bedtime Routines
Bedtime and naptime are crucial, as sleep helps to promote natural body and mind regulation. Getting proper rest will give your child the ‘refresh’ he or she needs! As you move towards that time in the day or night, try to create routines that are calm. Maybe taking a hot bath or shower before laying down, listening to calming music, reading a peaceful story together in bed, or offering a back scratch or song.
There are so many online resources, too, like this YouTube Mindfulness Bedtime Meditation that plays straight through for eight hours:
Other Ways to Ease Your Child’s Anxiety:
Remember that everyone’s journey is different, as is every single child! What may work well for one family might not make sense with yours, and that’s okay.
Featured Image Credit: Jordan Whitt