How do we help our children, and ourselves, manage a crisis?

(Ohio) – We are currently facing challenging times.  The pandemic, closed schools and businesses, possible loss of income, and uncertainty of the future are creating a lot of worry and fear. You’re feeling it and so are your children.

So how do we manage the mix of emotions that we are experiencing and help our kiddos at the same time? Here are a few tips.
  1. Manage your feelings first. Children mirror the feelings they notice in their parents. If you’re anxious and upset, they will be too. Acknowledge your feelings if your child asks but discuss your biggest fears, worries, and concerns with supportive adults, not your kids. Children are not able to process or resolve adult dilemmas so there is no point in bringing them into the mix. It will only increase their worry and concern.
  1. Normalize and validate your child’s feelings and concerns. Comfort them when they are upset and assure them that everything will be okay.
  1. Remind them that you will get through these troubling-times as a family and there are steps you can take to protect yourselves from Covid-19…like washing your hands, practicing social distancing, and disinfecting your home.
  1. Establish a new routine infusing a balance of work, play, relaxation, and educational time. Set up a chore list. Engage in a fun family activity. Encourage your child to spend some time by themselves relaxing, reading, or resting. Then come together to complete schoolwork or head outside for some hands-on learning through experiences with nature.
  1. Lastly, don’t ignore the corona crisis.  Spend time educating and informing yourself and your children but don’t overdo it! Constantly listening to the news or reading social media posts can increase anxiety and overwhelm. Keep your exposure to media short. If your child has questions, answer them in ways that are aligned to your child’s age and ability to understand. Don’t over-explain it or bog them down with jargon and terminology.
The coronavirus has definitely created challenges for everyone. But the most powerful way to help our children navigate any uncertainty is to ALWAYS validate the feelings they express, offer comfort, and assure them that things will be okay.
If you notice anxiety, fear, or depression are significantly interfering with your ability to manage daily activities or your child’s behaviors have changed drastically, you may want to seek professional help. As a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, I provide therapy for adults and children. If you are in need of counseling, please contact me at twlwcoaching@gmail or 330-754-9611
Tracie Giffin, MA, LPCC

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