The pandemic is affecting everyone who stays at home. All of a sudden you have a family cloistered together in one house for days, weeks, maybe longer, looking for ways to keep sane. Our kids, especially, need reassurance at this difficult time. Here we will discuss a few tips for helping kids cope with stress during this difficult time.
Being told to stay at home is taking a toll on everyone – we are stressed, anxious, and afraid of the unknown. Children, from toddlers to older teens, are finding it hard to cope. They are facing such challenges as:
- School closures
- Missing special events
- Missing friends and relatives
- A potential fear of not graduating
- Not being able to go outside
- Not having their questions answered
- Disruptions of normal routines/activities
- Frayed tempers
- Fear of the unknown
According to the American Psychological Association, two new meta-analytic studies focusing on children and college students suggest there is more anxiety today among ‘normal’ children than there was in the 1950s.
This is a very trying time for parents to add even more stress into the mix. What can you do to support your children during this time?
TALK TO THEM
Obviously, it is going to depend on how old your children are and what they understand. Give them the facts. They need to understand what they can do to protect themselves to avoid any risks of being infected. Reassure them that anyone can get sick no matter who they are and we all have to help each other.
Have them wash their hands often with soap and water, especially at crucial times such as blowing their nose, coughing, sneezing, and going to the bathroom. If they are young, make it fun for them such as singing a song for at least 20 seconds. Stress how important it is to not touch their eyes, nose, and mouth with unclean hands.
More than ever, this is not the time to be short with your children. They are going to have lots of questions and will need lots of love and extra attention right now. Respond in kind, positive ways. Praise them when they do something right. Pick your battles. Little children stuck inside all day are not going to be quiet for hours on end.
LET THEM VENT
They need to know it is ok to feel upset. Teach them some coping strategies such as breathing, listening to their favourite music, carrying around a cherished object in their pocket to touch when they feel panicky, creating art, and taking a relaxing bath. Ask them where their favourite place is and to think of it when they are feeling stressed. Better yet, talk to them about what you do during stress. For example, I read or do a crossword puzzle. It helps me to calm down.
CREATE AND ENJOY ACTIVITIES TOGETHER
Spend quality one-on-one time with your children – read or sing together, cook with them. My granddaughter always helped to make her French toast in the morning – even breaking the eggs in the bowl. It was something we loved doing together.
Go for a walk with your teen or talk about their favourite pastimes – sports, music, hobbies.
As a family, create some fun activities together. Ask them what they would like to do. These distractions will take their minds off stress.
HELP THEM STAY CONNECTED
Teens today are tech-savvy and many are already on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Let them know it is ok to socialize with their friends on social media. They need to feel connected while practicing social distancing.
As a family, you can talk to relatives together using Skype, Facetime, etc.
This actually works for younger family members as well, keeping them in touch with their grandparents for example, or their school pals. It goes without saying that supervision and safety are important for all.
Old routines may have to go out the window but you can establish new ones. Are they taking online classes? Help them to set a schedule, same time each day.
Everyone needs a break. Divide chores – who will do what and when, such as preparing meals, cleaning, washing, and putting the dishes away. Get everyone involved in the process and make sure to schedule in time for some family fun too!
Let them know that there are certain times when you aren’t available to them, especially if you work from home. This is why it is important to spend quality time with them when you can.
If you had routines before that you can still do, stick with them. For example, reading a bedtime story to your child/children at night, bathing schedules, watching a favourite show as a family, going to bed at a certain time, etc.
MANAGE YOUR OWN STRESS, BREATHE, RELAX
Children are very intuitive and will recognize when your emotions are out of whack.
Take a deep breath. Believe it or not, learning to breathe properly can actually help you in times of stress!
There is a technique called the 4-7-8 breathing technique. It is believed to aid in reducing anxiety, aiding in sleeping, managing cravings, and controlling or reducing anger responses. It involves a breathing pattern whereby one empties the lungs of air, breathes in quietly through the nose, holds their breath, exhales forcefully through the mouth, and repeats the cycle up to four times. If you would like to try it, here is a video that shows you exactly how to do it.
TRY SOME CBD
Getting enough relaxation and sleep is important at any time, but especially now when everything is upside down. A good night’s sleep is essential to face a new day. Your family will demand your attention and expect you to be there for them. Don’t let sleep deprivation add to your stress.
If you have used CBD products before, you probably are already reaping some of the benefits. If not, this recent article might be of interest. Rest isn’t a luxury right now – it’s essential.
We hope the above tips will come in handy for Helping Kids Cope With Stress.
Have you tried any of these tips? Do you have some to share? We would love to hear in the comments below how you and your kids are coping during this time.
Since 1994, I have suffered on and off with chronic pain as a result of degenerative joint changes in both my hips and knees. After refusing traditional pharmaceutical prescriptions as I felt they were invasive to my body, I started researching CBD products, specifically oils and medical marijuana products. I am happy to say that I have been taking them for over 3 years with tremendous success!