How is the pandemic impacting our children?
More and more, I am hearing parents’ express concern. Concern over their children’s anxiety. Worry over their well-being and their lack happiness. Can you relate?
The global pandemic has been a hard enough pill for us adults to swallow but, how are the kids coping? And what can we do help them? I have put together some action steps that can be put in place to help our children build resilience, reduce anxiety, and help them find joy again.
In March 2020, we were put into hard lockdown here in South Africa. Schools were closed. We were confined to our homes to keep us safe. Only business deemed as essential services were able to continue.
During this time, I was trying to navigate working and looking after my kids, thinking it would just be a couple of weeks and then it would all be over. After a couple of weeks, the lockdown was extended, and we all realized that covid 19 was not going anywhere in a hurry.
It was about this time that I realized my kids were not ok. They had both regressed in several areas. Their behaviour was odd and out of character. When I finally sat down and started talking to them, I realized that Hayden, who was 5 at the time, thought we were the only ones in lock down and he didn’t understand why we were doing it. Everything seemed to ease when we talked it all through. What I realized is that, children take snippets of information they hear and see and group it all together to make a narrative that makes sense to them. Even though this narrative may not even be true.
Another thing we needed to do was cut Covid talk. The children didn’t need us discussing the numbers or the variants. We also needed to have a real discussion about death. Olivia was a bit young, but Hayden had some real questions about dying. These small changes seemed to really help our little family.
Action steps to help children navigate through the pandemic
Helping our kids become resilient and emotionally open is key. We need to talk to them about their feelings. How they feel? Why they feel this way? We need to allow them to have a safe space to be open with these feelings. We then need to teach them how to get back up after we fall. I like to remind my children about a beautiful rainbow after a storm and about spring comes after a harsh winter. They need to know that hard times will pass, that they are so strong and that we can get though anything together.
How can we reduce our children’s anxiety? When cortisol is heightened. The most important thing we can do to reduce these levels , is to get moving. To exercise! Unfortunately, this has been an area where schools have also been affected. Children have less opportunity to play, during breaks and after school. This time is crucial for blowing off steam and allowing them to concentrate when they get back into class. Many sports and after school extra murals have also been suspended at times when our Covid 19 numbers are on the rise. This means the responsibly is on us as parents, to be as active with our kids as possible. To go on bike rides, walk the dogs and get moving as family.
We need to prioritize finding joy again. For our kids, our families and for ourselves. We all deserve to find joy again. One way to do this is to have a joy family journal. To let one member of the family to choose something that brought the joy. It could be a summer sunset, a warm hug or even a wonderful meal. By noticing and prioritizing the good things, we will notice them more often
It is human nature to need connection. We need it to be happy. Isolation and conflict can really suck the joy out of our lives. Our children have really been negatively effected with the isolation of the pandemic. By not seeing their friends and even at times other children. This is effecting our children’s ability to make friends and build these connections. Try creating a small circle of people that you feel comfortable around. Your children will appreciate the small bit of normalcy in their lives, and you will too!
By building resilience, cutting down anxiety through the reduction in stress hormones and prioritizing joy and connection, we can help our children navigate through this pandemic. Looking for a group of moms that have your back?
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