“We certainly are in unprecedented times.” I think that is something we have all heard at least once over the past couple of weeks. I know many of us are wondering how this time in our lives is going to impact our children’s future or what the post COVID-19 world is going to look like.
Like many other pivotal moments in our country’s past, I am sure our lives will look a bit different after COVID-19, but let’s not forget about the importance of focusing on the present. In the present moment we have been gifted with an amazing opportunity, a time to reflect and reset. There are a few options for helping you to do just that, well as ways to help your children cope during these uncertain times.
One of the best things we can do during this time is model for our children the behaviors that we want to see in them. God created us as social beings and thus, we learn through social interactions. Since those are limited now, it is important that we, as parents, model for our children healthy responses and behaviors. We need to be their calm in the chaos. This may seem like a lot of pressure (I feel it too at times), but this is where turning to God can be helpful.
We often feel unable to respond in healthy ways due to stress, lack of sleep, etc. However, as adults we have the ability to take a deep breath and count to 10 before responding to our children. The pause gives us an opportunity to ask God for help as well as to give us time to think through a healthy response rather than reacting in an unhealthy way. This is something we can teach our children to do during times of high emotion.
Another way we can help our children during this time of chaos and uncertainly is to create a safe environment at home. Allowing your children to feel physically safe is important. This should also include spending more time with your children physically, tech-free, and undistracted.
Additionally, spending more time at home requires creating a consistent routine. Children thrive in environments with a consistent schedule. Routine is especially helpful during chaotic times as it creates small, dosed-out certainties for them. Your schedule can flow however best fits your family, but if you are schooling at home it will help to follow along with the children’s school schedule when possible. There are plenty of “daily schedule” examples to explore, but find what fits your family best and allow room for change. Your first go at getting it right may not be quite what your family needs.
The most important thing is to provide your children with a sense of security as having a consistent schedule can help them anticipate how their day will flow.
Next, let children talk about their concerns without correcting or minimizing what they feel. Encourage writing and drawing as a mean of expression especially for those unable to verbally express themselves or who are unwilling to talk. Regardless of how your child chooses to express their feelings, affirm them and allow them to continue to share as they process thru what they are feeling. Additionally, let them ask questions and provide them with honest, age appropriate answers. With so much unknown, answering what you do know may alleviate some of their fears.
Lastly and most importantly, through all this we must offer our children hope and reassurance by pointing them to our great God. Remember to see this season as a gift that is allowing us to slow down, reflect and reset.
By Heidi Davidhizer LMSW –MREC volunteer
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