By Josh Carlson, Manager of Youth Services.
Is it all getting to be a bit much? Trying to balance #WFH; home learning; shared space; concern about safety, health, wellbeing; social distancing – the list goes on. Do you feel like your children are driving you insane? If online memes and videos are anything to go by, families went crazy within one day of being at home together.
Take a deep breath.
This pandemic has impacted everyone’s lives immeasurably, but consider the disruption to your child’s life: routines, school, activities, friendships, and their mental and emotional health. Your child may not be communicating, or able to communicate, that stress, but you may notice signs of anxiety, irritability, sleep irregularity or other issues.
One morning at the end of last week, my daughter seemed really sad. I got down on my knee and hugged her and asked her if she was ok. She sighed and said, “I miss school. I’m frustrated I can’t see my friends and my teachers.” Even with my verbose daughter’s vocabulary, I was still taken aback at her ability to put her feelings into words, and I also immediately felt for all the kids out there who aren’t able to do so or perhaps don’t know why they feel the way they do.
If your child is acting up, having trouble sleeping, or just driving you nuts, stop and reflect: their entire world has been turned upside down by something they probably don’t really understand. Something many adults don’t seem to understand. Your child is understandably stressed and is probably incapable of dealing with that anxiety on their own in a healthy, “non-disruptive” way. Just take a moment and consider their, and your, reactions to this event and then try to respond with love and empathy.
Take a break from home learning. Pivot to a fun activity. Get some fresh air (while safely physical distancing). Maintain some socialization for yourself and your child using digital tools–have a group video playdate, host a game night. Put on some happy music. Put your family’s happiness, and sanity, first. It’s the most important thing.
YOU GOT THIS.
Here’s some links on managing anxiety during the COVID-19 crisis for you and your child; information to help your child understand what is going on; and resources to help you help them cope during this stressful time.
Tune into one of the Library’s Virtual Wellness Events in April.
If you read nothing else, go through the collection of NYT articles collected at What Parents Need to Know About Coronavirus. It covers every aspect of parenting, working from home, and childraising during the pandemic. Especially useful are the relatable stories from real people and how they are handling things which help to remind you: you’re not really alone.
How to Manage Your COVID-19 Anxiety.
Take A Breath – activities for mindfulness, stress reduction and anxiety relief.
8 Tips for Working From Home with Kids During COVID-19 – from Yale Medicine.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America COVID-19 Helpful Resources.
Just for Kids: A Comic Explaining the Coronavirus.
Child Mind Institute Resources for Supporting Families During COVID-19.
Ten Tips for Talking About COVID-19 with Your Kids – PBS News Hour.
National Association of School Psychologists – Talking to Children about COVID-19: A Parent Resource.
Helping Children Cope with Stress During the COVID-19 Outbreak.
Expert Tips for Helping to Calm an Upset Child.
Sesame Street’s Caring for Each Other site and toolkit.