Helping your Child through the Coronavirus
Pandemics are tough for adults to understand and respond to, and even more difficult for children who lack knowledge and experience on how to overcome challenges. A common result of natural disasters, pandemics, and major life crises, in general, is that children are severely traumatized and have difficulty managing their emotions. A child should be able to be a child even during nationwide upheaval. Their innocence and fun should not be halted.
Following are some suggestions for you to help your child, during this difficult time.
Children react to disasters in a variety of ways. Some become tearful and clingy. They may regress to earlier life stages (i.e., bed wetting, fear of the dark, thumb sucking), become irritable or aggressive, or withdrawn and worried.
Youth are not good as adults at communicating their feelings verbally. Children tend to act their feelings out. Let your child know that they are important to you and that you are interested in how they are feeling. Give your child lots of hugs and reassurance that everything is going to be okay. Spend one-on-one time listening to their perspectives. Some children (and adults) process events by talking about them over and over again. Children ask lots of questions. Try to answer their questions the best that you can. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know. I will try to find out for you.”
Children need lots of encouragement during an event like this. Praise them for any small or large contributions they made in helping the family make it through the crisis. These contributions might include: doing what they are told, not fighting with their brother or sister, keeping their bedroom clean, staying inside, and keeping up with their homework.
For young children, play and art work is a good way for them to express their emotions. You can learn a lot about what a child is thinking and feeling by observing their play or art work. Encourage your child to write a happy ending to this crisis, or to draw it in a way that is empowering for them. Don’t be worried if you see them playing out crisis scenes over and over again. They are expressing their feelings and learning to master their environment through repetitive play. If your young child seems particularly distressed about any aspect of the pandemic-crisis, seek out a licensed counselor.
Children can become overwhelmed by disturbing media messages about the pandemic. Be sure to monitor your child’s intake of television, radio, newspaper, and social media. When children see television images relating to the pandemic over and over again, they become frightened for their own safety and that of their loved ones. Remind your child that they are safe and that the adults around them are working daily to make sure that they are going to be okay. Discuss how God is in control and He is guiding us through this difficult time.
Helping others is a powerful way to divert children from their own worries. Identify people or causes in your community that your child can assist with. There are various ways children can help others who are impacted by the pandemic, such as writing encouraging letters, baking goodies, making artwork, cleaning up yards, and making care-packages.
This is a good time to model self-care for your child. Children need to know that no matter what happens, we still have to take good care of our bodies and our minds. Let your child see you exercise, make good food choices, get the proper amount of sleep, and spend time in relaxation.
Be careful about burdening children with adult issues, such as, how this pandemic is affecting your job, your fears about your family and friend’s health, your concerns about the spread of the virus, your frustration with your child being out of school, quarantine etc. Dealing with adult issues over which one has no power or control is frustrating and scary for a child.
Staying inside can become quite boring for children (and adults). A regular routine is very important for children. Below are a few suggestions of things that your child can do alone or with others in the home, after they have completed their school work and chores:
1. Read the Bible and learn more about their favorite Bible characters.
2. Write a letter to a single or elderly adult who lives alone.
3. Complete a puzzle.
4. Look at pictures of puppies or kittens online.
5. Play a game. Learn a card game.
6. Put on a play.
7. Try on all their clothes and put together new outfits. Have a fashion show.
8. Bake with an adult.
9. Do artwork. Color.
10. Look in the mirror and do a self-portrait.
11. Write down all the things they are grateful for.
12. Interview family members.
13. Go on a home scavenger hunt.
14. Read. Write a book. Write a song. Write a poem.
15. Have a parade in the house.
16. Exercise and stretch. Dance
17. Move in slow-motion throughout the day.
18. Skype with a friend.
19. Collect bugs
20. Wash the car.
21. Plant a garden.
22. Do tongue twisters
23. Play hide and seek.
24. Have a picnic on the living room floor.
25. Play charades
26. Play hot potato
27. Arm wrestle
28. Make crazy hairstyles
More suggestions at https://familyeguide.com/boredom-busters-110-fun-at-home-activities-for-families-kids-2/
©Dwan Milam-Reed, PhD., LCSW, http://www.dwanreed.com