Kids need us to help them navigate hard times. We are sharing seven easy ways to help your kids feel safe, fun, and in control during trying and tumultuous times.
Be a Role Model
Kids take their cues from the people they love and look up to. You! Be aware of how you talk about COVID-19 around your kids. Be calm and explain how your family will stay safe. Save negative or unsure topics for adult-time.
- Practice proper handwashing and coughing
- Social distancing (you can’t expect them to be reasonable about staying away from friends if you aren’t)
- Maintaining a regular household routine (as much as you can) – especially make sure everyone gets enough sleep!
- Read the right information. Only get your news from unbiased, fact-based sources.
- Be positive!
To help your kids you do not have to pretend like everything is okay. In fact, you can embrace this time to talk about other things big events you have lived through and how you dealt with them.
One really awesome option put together by Long Creations is a COVID-19 time capsule. It is an 11-page pdf that will help them appreciate who they are now and the good parts of this very strange situation.
Natalie Long, the creator, has said this is a gift and, for those who asked, that instead of payment “to, please consider donating to a local charity or passing on a random act of kindness within your community.”
If children think they are being lied to or having information withheld it can increase their anxiety. So, do not keep them in the dark, but do keep the discussion age-appropriate. Likewise, too much information can also increase their anxiety. You are already modeling how to be a calm, cool, collected adult in uncharted territory (right?).
- Acknowledge their (and your) feelings. It’s okay to tell them you are frustrated too.
- All feelings are on the table! Do not dismiss, minimize, or judge.
- Don’t overdo it. Too much reassurance can also make them feel like there really is something to worry about.
- Answer their questions, but don’t ask leading questions – it is okay if you do not have all the answers!
- Be available.
Keep life as normal as possible. Play is how kids cope with the world. It is completely normal for this new life to creep in to how they are playing or drawing. If Barbie is washing her hands a little more than usual or the Hot Wheels are lining up for shots it is completely okay.
This is also a great opportunity to cycle through some old toys and games and get down there with them! Even if you are working from home you just gained time you would have previously spent commuting and playing chauffeur to your kids’ activities.
And, definitely get outside!
- Hula Hoop
- Build a backyard obstacle course
- Bake mud pies
- Start a garden
- Play a game or put a puzzle together
While we are in a new frontier, this is not the prairie days. Stay connected with friends a family. Skype, Zoom, Facetime, Messenger, whatever works – just do not go it alone. Even introverts need people to ground them.
Take a Break
Do not worry about it. If you need to, just sticking a fork in Spring and being done. There are a lot of constantly moving pieces going on in our lives today. Work from home, educate the kids, cook three meals a day (why do these people have to eat so much?!).
It is totally okay to just let something go. Give the kids extra electronics time and practice some self-care. Calm parents are happy parents. Happy parents have happy kids. Be flexible and know when to say when.
- Take a bath (lock the door)
- Give yourself a little spa day (pull out that mask that’s been under the sink forever, do your nails – DON’T CUT YOUR BANGS!)
- Read a book
- Pet your dog
- Binge a show and do nothing until it is done.
It is often said that gifts are about the giver, not the giftee. People like being useful. We like being appreciated. A lot of our self worth can be found in these squiggy parts of our brain that light up when we hit these feelings of pleasure and reward.
"...giving is roughly on par with eating fudge or getting laid." - The Atlantic
Having kids participate in helping others in a tangible, meaningful way will help them feel worthy and useful.
How kids can help:
- Read a favorite book and post it on social media for younger kids
- Pull weeds
- Help clean the house
- Make no-sew masks and gift them to neighbors
- Deliver a meal to someone who can’t go out
- Practice random acts of kindness
- Clean out the toys and books, donate to a women’s shelter
- Go on a walk and pick up litter
Kids are resilient. Kids are great.
How are your kids doing? What is helping them?