Written by Luciana Pacheco-McEvoy, M.S., Home Start Therapist
During this time of stress and uncertainty, children may be processing this sudden disruption in their lives with challenging behaviors that sometimes make it difficult for caregivers to understand. Exposure to stressful events, which right now might include economic hardships, absence of routines, isolation from family/friends, or serious illness or death of someone can negatively impact children’s mental and physical health and behavior. What caregivers need to know is, this is all normal, and there are tools available to help mitigate the harms that children experience.
Here are some ways parents can help kids work through these stressful events without becoming harmful to emotional and physical well-being:
- Talk to your children about COVID-19, answer their questions, and address any fears they may have. “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting and less scary.” This PBS link is a great resource that explains how to talk to your kids about COVID-19 in an age appropriate way.
- Stay active and make time for new and creative activities. Take a daily family walk, bike ride, or do yoga while maintaining social distancing. Staying active helps decrease stress cortisol levels and helps increase endorphins.
- Manage your own anxiety. If you are feeling overwhelmed step away and take a break. That could look like taking a shower, going outside for fresh air, or going into another room and taking some deep breaths. It’s important to stay informed, but it’s also a good idea to limit consumption of news and social media as it may have the potential to increase your anxiety, and that of your kids.
- Stay in touch virtually. Socializing plays an important role in regulating your mood and helping you stay grounded. Let your kids use social media (within reason), and plan facetime or skype dates to stay in touch with friends. Communication with other peers and family members can help kids feel less alone.
Stay calm and stay safe San Diego.