There’s no doubt that the changes and uncertainty from the pandemic have a huge impact on everyone. And if you have kids, you know that these events are also causing a toll on their mental health. So how can we help our kids to cope with the stress and changes in the pandemic?
Keep Your Worries in Check
The first step is to manage your own worries and look out for yourself. Us parents have a tendency to feel like we are indestructible or that we always have to put on fake armor every day. However, there’s a difference between ignoring and acknowledging your own feelings.
The pandemic is truly a worrisome event, and the uncertainty is causing us anxiety. If you refuse to acknowledge these worries and give yourself a check, this anxiety will end up showing. Remember that our children are sponges, and if they see that their parents are not coping well, they’re bound to feel the same.
We are all spending the majority of our time in our homes, so these places should feel like a safe haven; both for you and your kids. But you can only help your kids cope if you also feel supported. Do not isolate yourself from the care and support of your partner, friends, or family.
If it will make you feel better, find someone that you can confide your worries to. Educate yourself with facts and talk to other people in the same situation as you. Talking helps in easing the tensions we feel. And you can only help others if you are also in a good place.
Your kids will notice the ways on how you’re facing these unprecedented times, so be a good role model for them. Take care of both your mental and physical health. So besides acknowledging your emotions, make sure that you are also practicing ways to maintain good physical health at home.
Educate Your Kids About the Pandemic and the New Lifestyle Changes
Like I said before, it’s important that we educate ourselves about the pandemic. But because it’s so easy to access different sources, it’s also likely for us to encounter false information. And since this information isn’t from credible sources, they might make you feel more anxious than necessary.
Always check if the information you’ve read is indeed from reliable sources. And then you can use them to educate your kids and explain why we have to make lifestyle changes. For example, your kids are potentially exposing themselves to social media, so it’s important that you have explained to them what the coronavirus is.
Use an explanation style that is suitable to their age group, and if it’s possible, limit their access to various sources online. Kids are naturally curious, so if they approach you with questions, be ready to educate them.
You can start by asking them what they think COVID-19 is so that you can correct their interpretations if needed. At the same time, use this opportunity to explain why it’s important to practice social distancing, self-quarantine, and proper hygiene.
One of the things that can ease the negative emotions of your kids is when you explain why these changes are needed. For example, I noticed that my daughter didn’t immediately understand why our vacation to the beach had to be canceled.
It’s normal that they don’t immediately get why these changes have to happen, but with some explanation, they will realize that the events are not directed towards them. They might even feel much better knowing that they are helping other people with the compromises and changes they’re doing.
Create a Daily Routine
Boredom and isolation, along with other limitations, are probably the biggest reasons why kids aren’t coping well with the pandemic. Therefore, we have to ease this emptiness and uncertainty at home.
Routines offer consistency and structure, which makes them an effective solution to alleviate the stress we feel. For example, our daily routine consists of a specific wake-up and bedtime schedule. Every family member also has specific tasks and chores around the house, and we make sure that we are always having meals together. This is possible to follow through as long as you’ve involved everyone in creating a routine.
If your kids have online lessons and you also have to do work at home, make sure that you’re always present during these times. But since you don’t want to make every day feel too robotic, allocate schedules throughout the day for fun and leisure.
For example, I know my daughter has been wanting to cook with my copper cookware like these. I saw this as an opportunity to bond, and also as a prize for staying at home and obeying the new rules.
It may seem like such a simple thing, but my point here is you can be resourceful with the limitations that we have at the moment. Even if it’s just teaching your daughter how to cook a steak perfectly in a copper pan.
Stay Connected with Each Other
Lastly, don’t forget to keep communication with the outside world available. Just because we are practicing self-isolation doesn’t mean we also have to be unavailable with our other support systems.
Nowadays, we can stay connected with other family members and friends via the internet. So you can take advantage of this and set your kids with virtual playdates with their friends and cousins. You can also make group calls with your other family members and friends, and play online games together. Even if these people aren’t with us physically, laughing, and catching up with them will surely make you and your kids feel less isolated.
But besides virtual communication and games, don’t forget to check out with everyone in the household. You may allocate time every day where everyone can voice out their concerns and frustrations. This way, you can make sure that you are always present for your kids, and they don’t feel more alone in their own home. Instead of shrugging them off when you are busy, reassure your children that you will be available later on.