COVID-19 has created a flurry of emotions most of us can never have imagined. Appearing on every news program, radio station, newspaper and social media outlet, it has been virtually inescapable. The unexpected upheaval to our lives has caught most adults off guard therefore, it’s not surprising children may also be caught off guard with the constant bombardment of heavy news with seemingly no end in sight.
One of the positives to come from this situation is the extra time we’re spending with our partners, children and pets. We’ve had the opportunity to reconnect and ultimately be a source of support for one another, a soft place to land when the outside world is overwhelming.
People are experiencing many emotions: sadness, anger, disappointment, confusion and anxiety to name just a few. The uncertainty and scope of government restrictions has drastically impacted our way of life and it can be difficult to process.
You may start to notice your child:
• crying over issues that wouldn’t normally affect them
• being clingy and needing more adult attention and reassurance than usual
• pushing more boundaries or ‘acting up’
• being hyperactive or withdrawn
• lacking concentration
• missing their family and friends.
As we all do our best to carry on in this ever-changing climate, it is important to remember our brains are highly effective at adapting to new situations when the right support mechanisms are in place. You can support your child by:
• staying calm. Our children follow our emotional lead, so being calm encourages children to be calm
• keeping consistency in your daily routine wherever possible. Finding ‘anchor points’ in daily schedules is crucial to building stability
• allowing your child to ask questions about things they may have heard on the TV or radio. Be honest in an age-appropriate way; it’s okay to not always have the answers.
Humans are hard-wired to want social interaction and engagement. Be patient with your child—and yourself—as you make the most of connecting with loved ones through technology. And don’t underestimate the power of writing a letter or drawing a picture and posting it to loved ones. Performing such acts of kindness shows children that considering others makes them feel good about themselves too.
Finally, this situation will pass. Though we can’t be sure when, you can confidently reassure your children it will not last forever.
*If you are concerned that you or your child may not be adjusting to the situation or need extra support, please seek advice from your general practitioner or other medical professional.