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Children + Coping + COVID19

Wow!! What a week we’ve had, and from what I’ve seen on the media today, we have an even bigger week to come.

As parents, we would all be feeling a little overwhelmed with all things COVID-19. Let’s consider what is happening for our children. Images of panic buying, cancelled sports/assemblies/events, discussions around their school closing, countries going into lock-down, changes in parents working and employment situations, social distancing, people wearing face masks, increased hygiene processes…. And the list goes on….

I have been incredibly impressed with the resilience I have seen from children regarding COVID-19. They have shown adaptability, flexibility, strength and courage.

There are many more changes to come and I wanted to give you a few tips to help in the coming weeks……

It’s OK to talk about COVID-19

By nature children are curious and inquisitive! Even if you are trying to make your home havens from COVID-19 news, your children would be hearing information at school and from their friends. Not talking about things can actually make your kids worry more. Therefore it is important to have open, honest and factual conversations with our children….. help them feel informed at a level appropriate for their age and development.

Open, Honest, Factual Conversations

Children don’t need all the facts and figures on COVID-19 as this might feel overwhelming. Instead, try your best to honestly and clearly answer your children’s questions. On this point, it is important your children understand they themselves are some of the strongest people on the planet to fight COVID-19. The statistics show that globally there have been no deaths for children under 10 years, and a very low mortality rate for children aged 10-19 years at 0.2%.

Keep Calm Yourselves

Children look to us as parents to ascertain whether they should be worried or not. It is important that you remain calm. As parents, it is important you maintain a sense of calm and perspective, and keep your anxiety in check. This will give your children the best chance of feeling reassured. You are their role models!!

Focus on the Positives

During times like this, we can get consumed with all the negativity and restrictions, and forget to focus on positives…. And what we CAN do. We can do still do things in our homes that we love and find relaxing, we can Skype or Facetime family, go for bushwalks/runs/walks, learn from home, play board games, listen to music, arts & crafts, Mindfulness etc.

Russ Harris is a Medical Practitioner, Psychotherapist, consults to the World Health Organisation, and is Australia’s most highly acclaimed Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Trainer. He has made his Mindfulness app available for free until June 2020

Download ACT Companion from the App store and use the code word TOGETHER to unlock all the features (unfortunately not compatible with the latest version of Android).

Encourage Healthy Habits

Children like predictability and consistency…. Routine provides this! Even if the whole family are at home, keep to a structured day with regular meals and bedtimes, getting showered and dressed, keep active, stay engaged with others (even if this is via digital platforms)…. And please….. avoid letting your kids lay on the couch and watch screens from dawn until dusk.

Show Understanding and Empathy to your Children

Lastly, acknowledge and validate your children’s concerns at this time. We have never seen anything like this in our lifetime, and neither have our children. We need listen to how they are feeling, validate their feelings and disappointment, and work together to make the COVID-19 situation bearable. It is important to realise that our kids (particularly teenagers) may need some quiet time for themselves and a little extra freedom. Give your kids room to share how they are feeling!

Above all…… let your children know that you understand these are challenging times, but you are there for them, they can ask questions, you will keep them informed, and you are all doing your best to keep your family safe, happy and healthy!

Muse Psychology offers Telepsychology sessions via phone and video.

If you think you or your family could benefit from some additional support over the coming weeks, please give us a call on 85450137.

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