Right now, we are living in very uncertain and unique times. Globally, schools have closed and are moving to online learning. Parents are now at home trying to juggle their own jobs and the extra pressures of having kids at home, is leaving us all feeling a little scared and anxious at the uncertainty. This feeling is amplified in our kids as they look to us for stability and security and will just feed off the range of emotions that we are emitting daily.
Your kids will not only absorb your anxiety but also the sentiments of their wider community. This includes their school friends, your neighbours and those you are chatting and conferencing with online. As they try to emotionally regulate their levels of fear and anxiety, their behaviour will likely deteriorate. Our kids behaviour is just a direct result of what they are feeling, so when they become increasingly agitated and start to have tantrums or meltdowns remember this is them trying to desperately manage their emotions in a very difficult situation. Remember to listen carefully to their concerns and meet them with validation and compassion.
5 ways to reassure and support our children in times of crisis
No one can reassure your kids better than the ones they trust most: their parents. If they see us remaining calm, positive and in control they will feel safe and secure. Kids are extremely resilient and as long as we are guiding them to be smart about their physical and mental health they will survive this ‘new normal situation’.
Here are 5 tips on how you can reassure kids in these uncertain times;
1. Talk to them about COVID-19
Depending on their age and media exposure, they may know more about the virus than we think. Don’t try to hide from them what is going on in the world as this could cause mis-trust. This doesn’t mean allowing them to watch the news with you or reading social media links, it’s a good idea to monitor small children’s exposure to media reports about the virus. Have purposeful discussions with them on what exactly COVID-19 is, where it started, how it spreads and how they can take steps to keep themselves and others around them safe. Explain new words to them and what they mean, quarantine, isolate, social distancing etc., Older kids will want to hear more in-depth knowledge and information and may at times be the ones bringing this to you from their social media feeds. A lesson in how to check credibility of facts and resources can be very useful especially at the moment, where people share so much information before checking it’s authenticity. Gently correct any misconceptions they may have heard and encourage them to continue to ask questions.
2. Practice and teach safe health and hygiene
This is a great time to teach kids about the importance of washing their hands, something I’m sure many parents have been battling with for years! It sounds condescending especially to older kids or teens but show them how exactly they should be washing their hands right now to ensure all germs are destroyed. Make learning fun for younger kids and look for kid friendly methods to help them understand health and hygiene. You can provide age appropriate information in the form of child friendly info-graphs or short ‘how to’ videos (see below.) Have discussions on how their lifestyle and food choices impact their immunity and what role their immune systems play in fighting of viruses and diseases. Reassure them that experts around the world are working hard to not only stop the virus but to find a vaccine to help us.
3. Establish a sense of a new normal
During a crisis of this global size with information and situations changing daily it’s very hard to establish a routine, but it’s actually our daily routines that can help us in these times. Huge amounts of research has been done on how maintaining routines provides kids with a sense of security and protects their mental and physical health. Things like meals at certain times of the day, walking the dog, an hour fixed to exercise or have connected time, whether that’s a chosen movie or a board game, there is a certain reassurance and stability in routines. Kids thrive when they have routines and boundaries, that’s why they all run feral during the long summer holidays! Teach your kids the value of being flexible and collaborating doing household chores, this can be a good time to focus on life skills for older teens who could take on ore responsibility at this time.
4. Empower them
Telling kids how they can help can help turn their anxiety into action and goals. Include your kids in family preparations, ask them what they would like to eat, get them to plan their own meals and include them with age appropriate cooking chores. Ask them to help around the house with wiping surfaces daily or give them small chores to clean light switches or door handles for good hygiene. These small actions can empower kids and help them feel they are taking positive steps to control and keep safe their own environments.
5. Emphasise kindness
Your kids will not remember what they have learnt at school during this time, that is for sure, what they will remember are the kind acts you do for others and how you behave for the good of the community and others around you. Emphasise that kindness is always possible even when they feel afraid. As always teach kids to continue more than ever to be kind to those around them, regardless of their country of origin or appearance. Discuss with them that just because people wear masks, it doesn’t mean they have the virus and that they are just trying to stay healthy and protect themselves. It is important to remind kids that we are all trying to stay healthy and it’s not anyone’s fault if they do get sick.
Professional Mental Health Help Options in Bangkok
Should you find that you, or your family are overwhelmed by the COVID-19 situtation, it might be a good idea to seek professional help. Even a phone call or online meeting may make the difference to bring you back in balance.
We’ve identified the following options from our community.
- Bangkok Psychology
- New Counseling Service
- Scott Berry Associates
- Lighthouse Counseling Center
- Psychological Services International
- Bangkok Counseling Service
If you know of other Mental Health resources that should be listed here, please contact us.
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