In times like these when stress and fear is high, it is so important to take care of our emotional and mental health. It is so easy to get caught up in the stories with everyone talking about it and how it hugely impacts our lives, which it does; to get caught up with reading everything on social media. It is a threat, it is scary, the question is how are we going to manage ourselves through this? What are we going to focus on?
This is a good opportunity to develop our emotional and mental strength. It is an important time to focus on love and self-care. Doing this not only helps us but our children too. It takes a bit more awareness and discipline which is not always easy but is far kinder to our bodies than to remain in a stress state.
So what messages are our children getting about Corona Virus and how can we influence this?
Are they getting a message of fear or safety? How are we talking about it to them and what are their perceptions? What are they hearing in our conversations to others? Remember, they don’t have a big perspective as we do, what meaning are they giving to this? Even when they are really young they will feel all the stress and fear and it is important for us to frame the story for them.
What can we do?
- We can talk to them, ask them questions and give them a story or meaning to this. The story and detail would depend on their age, but they need a story and reassurance no matter how young! (they will feel the tension and this leads to confusion if they are not reassured) For young children, the story can be very short with a reassurance. It could sound something like this: I know that your school is closing earlier for the holidays, what have you been told? What have you heard? Acknowledge – Yes people are sick and some people are scared, but we are going to be okay. Sometimes mom and dad also feel a little scared (if you do, don’t deny it, they will feel it) but we will make sure that we will all be okay. That is why we are keeping you at home (focus talk on the importance of self-care, not the story). That could be enough or some more. In times like these, we take extra care of ourselves. What can we do to enjoy this time at home? Shift their focus to what they can do in the situation. This allows them to feel that they have some control.
- How can you take care of yourself? Acknowledge and reassure yourself too. Notice your self-talk. Yes, I feel stressed and I will find a way. Notice the problems your thoughts are coming up with and listen and acknowledge them. Ask yourself: I wonder what steps I can take now? What could I put in place? What do I need to learn? Who could help me? Take small steps, even if it is a phone call. Focus your thought on what you can do too. Fear and confusion can lead us to feel stuck. Taking a few steps can help us feel a little in control in a situation where we don’t have much control (your steps could be as simple as I am going to hug my children each day and reassure them)
- Take extra care of your physical health. Be more vigilant on eating healthily and drinking water. A healthy body has a stronger immune system. This is a good opportunity to teach children the importance of eating healthily
- Focus on learning rather than what is happening. How can we train their thoughts to problem-solving? What could they learn about? How different people live and the consequences? What people do to help? How doctors and volunteers help people in this situation. What solutions do people come up with? The message can be: in times of change people look for and find ways to get what they need. People find different ways to work together and get through challenges
- Handling outside influence – encourage your children to share what they have heard and seen. Help them to make sense of it. Disassociate what they have heard to what message you want them to understand e.g. I know you heard this or saw someone respond like that, what do you think. We are doing ….. (i.e. the message is: what they hear and see is not necessarily the truth, it is someone’s reaction and we get to choose how we react). Ask them how they feel and acknowledge their feeling, what do they need to feel safe?
I hope you have found this valuable and would love to hear your feedback. Click here to send me a message. I am here to support you. In a time like this deciding to take extra care of our emotional and physical well-being is the kindest thing we can do for ourselves, our children and the world. Focusing our thought is the first step.