When you can do something in a circumstance, you feel in more control. Kids do not know this fact instinctively, but you can help them to cultivate this strategy.
It will help your kids establish a better emotional balance during this pandemic.
What the Research Says
“According to a 2017 study by Fothergill, kids experience the general atmosphere of anxiety and panic as acutely as adults do, only they might be better at hiding it. That fact might contribute to a general sense among adults that children are somehow naturally “resilient,” and can bounce back easily. And that attitude from adults can hamper both proactive attempts to help children process what’s happening, and necessary therapeutic efforts after the disaster,” according to The Atlantic.
So, what can you do as a responsible parent? You can focus on what kids can do to maintain a positive attitude and encourage coping skills during the restricted conditions in the coronavirus pandemic. Try out these 7 ideas to eliminate bad behavior!
1. Be A Helper!
This is a win-win situation. Parents will welcome the help at home at the same time that kids need to be active.
As a parent, you can explain that just as the emergency care workers help sick people, kids can help at home to keep family members safe.
Set up a list of ways to help from setting the table, putting out the garbage, and creating a garden. Let your kids select the tasks they want to do if you’re intent on getting “buy-in” from them. Then reward them with an acknowledgment of their contribution. Make your praise specific as it is more effective. It may sound like this. “When you do the dishes, it gives mummy more time to organize things for all of the family. Thank you for doing such a great job!”
If your children are older, they can be a helper in your community. There are many special projects developed by a local community organization, churches, and government agencies to meet the needs of this unusual time. Many tasks can be completed by older kids in your own home if you do not want to expose them to the risks of working with people outside your family bubble. They could make courtesy Facebook connections to elders in the nursing homes, or package material to distribute as just a few examples.
2. Follow the Family Routine
Kids thrive on knowing the ebb and flow of the day, so it is crucial to set up a routine for eating, sleeping, chores, entertainment, and other daily activities. A routine will ward off bad behavior.
To make the plan visible to everyone, it is essential to post the schedule where it can be seen. You may not have times associated with the routine, but the order of some activities will be very similar every day.
Not every day needs to be identical. For instance, you may target one day a week for grocery shopping or to assist at the local food kitchen or work in the garden.
3. Stay Healthy
To fight this virus, each individual has a societal responsibility to stay healthy. For your kids, that can manifest itself in helping to plan healthy meals or snacks, times and types of exercise, times for social interaction, and times for individual responsibility such as homework or job-related tasks.
You will need to point out that these healthy initiatives are required to combat the coronavirus spread. These small steps are all part of the larger fight to beat this pandemic.
4. Ask Questions
Often kids can misinterpret the media, have learned an incorrect fact from a friend, or respond to their anxiety in a very damaging way. Negative emotions based on misconceptions are potent.
Encourage seeking the truth about the pandemic so that the path to a more normal life is clear.
You may want to add a question period in your daily routine to spark interaction. Perhaps while you are preparing dinner, you can have an open session where questions are asked or present some critical information. Bedtime is another opportunity for conversations, as well.
5. A Temporary Situation
Kids need to understand that this situation is, for now, but it will not be forever. You can assure them that gradually they will be able to do the things they always did, such as go to school, visit their friends and family, play on the beach and everything else.
But at first, things will be different as we all need to use social distancing, such as wearing masks, meeting outside, or meeting behind glass. Eventually, these precautions will fade away and just become a memory.
6. Be Thankful Every Day
Although our current situation may be the toughest sacrifice you have had to make, it is not the most severe that people in other areas face daily.
It is critical to help your kids see the positives in their lives. Perhaps everyone they know is healthy. Or staying at home has meant more time with family members. Your kids may have learned a new skill in this time, such as learning to ride a bike or learning how to use tools or reading more books.
You may want to put a thankfulness time into your routine. Every day, in the conversation around the dinner table, you can role model what you were thankful for today. It can be something as small as seeing the first robin of the year or as big as grandma got out of the hospital today. Focus on the positive in direction opposition to the build-up of negative emotions.
7. Be the Best They Can
By helping your kids understand the source of their negative emotions, they can take control of their own behavior.
There are many storybooks and YouTube videos that explain the connection between stress and anxiety and bad behavior in a kid-like manner. As a parent, you will recognize that poor behavior is likely a maladjusted response for dealing with fear or depression.
Teach your child to understand that these outbursts are responses to a situation that is beyond their control. Your kids need to focus on what they can do in this very oppressive situation. They can choose to make themselves feel better. And you are there to support them as they find ways to be more positive.
With young kids, you need the right tool to help your child understand that sometimes life sucks, but when it does, that is the time to use the light at the end of the tunnel to boost their spirits.
There are some specific resources for parents to use to address feelings kids may be experiencing. Some are coronavirus specific, and others are about the emotions generated by a variety of situations. Use these resources to help your children understand that dealing with their feelings will put them into control of their life.
Spark your child’s understanding of their emotions through the right media resources.
Activities and conversation starters during the coronavirus pandemic By YoungMinds
Recommended Social Story Books for Younger Children
Use special storybooks to help change behavior. 5 Tips and Tricks for using Storybooks to Alleviate Emotional Distress
There is hope for the future in this story. Arm your kids with this sentiment during this time that is filled with doubt.
These everyday heroes perform magnificent feats daily. Your kids can replicate their bravery by stepping up their efforts to keep the family safe and in good spirits. Just ask them to be a hero and you may be surprised at their effort.
Although this is not a coronavirus specific book, all of the lessons in this book can be applied to the current situation.
Trauma can come in many forms. It will be easy to relate the situations in this book to your current family situation. The important aspect is how to cope with trauma in any form.
This storybook has been written by a clinical psychologist. The tiny bird, as a narrator, is a symbol of hope and freedom, which is what we need these days.
This story is about about feelings during the pandemic. The many scary emotions that are explored are put into counterpoint by the ever green activities and refrain “Not Forever, but For Now.”
As adults we can rationalize that “someday soon” will come. Young kids need to hear and see confirmation that their hopes are not lost. We are all longing for that change, even if we know that it will be the new normal.
Recommended YouTube Videos
Helping Children Manage Anxiety During the COVID 19 Pandemic: You will appreciate the background information. – for parents
Kids and Stress: Willem, the “News Dude” speaks directly to kids about the causes and some solutions for stress. – suitable for older children
Stress Relief for Kids: Blow out the candle breathing. Use this video to explain training in deep breathing using cartoon characters. Your child will understand a mindful moment. – varied ages
What Causes Anxiety & Depression? This video uses scenes from the movie “Inside Out” to explain why we need to acknowledge our feelings, but then shows a way to move on. It’s okay to be sad. – a variety of ages
Managing Worry and Anxiety: The rap cartoon is about how to overcome worrying. great for older kids
De-stress Hacks to Relax: Your kids can make stress-relieving tools to destress. – suitable for older children
Anxiety for Kids – You are Normal: This video is an explanation of anxiety. The explanation includes the physical changes you undergo. – for older kids
Anxiety Management for kids: This is a cartoon explanation about the source of anxiety.- for a school-aged child
Dealing with Anxiety as a Kid: This video explains the physical cause of anxiety and ways to cope with the fears. – for preteens and teens