When Mahalene asked if I would come on the VDM Happy Hour Series, I was really excited to share some tips with families! This is such as hard time for everyone, especially the little ones! As I mentioned, I think the biggest challenges for kids right now is that their sense of normalcy has been rocked, and their routines and schedules have been completely changed. This creates a lot of anxiety and stress (on top of the anxiety that our kids pick up on from us, the news or other talking about this). So now, as a parent (and teacher, and cook, and cleaner, and snack maker, and dog walker...) how do you help your kids through this challenging time? Here are some ideas that I think could be helpful:
Provide developmentally appropriate information as well as an opportunity for them to share questions or worries. Some people might think just because they are kids that they don't care or don't need to know. However, if we don't give them a narrative, they may create their own.
Validate your children's experience and try to have more compassion for their struggles. Extra snuggles or affection may help them feel more secure. Do this for yourself also because, well, we all need a little extra grace right now!
Get moving! I would encourage opportunities for exercise (outdoor if possible to get some sun and fresh air), and socialization with others through Zoom, writing letters to loved ones, etc.
Routine or structure, but with flexibility! Predictability can decrease anxiety. But please don't feel like you need to have every 30 minutes carved out for your day; that mentality may lead to a failed system and you just giving up! Instead try having a more general routine and stick to it. For example, having your normal morning wake up and breakfast routine, followed by coloring time, snack, outside time, learning time, etc.
Hopefully you find some of these helpful for you and your littles!
With so much information floating around, I wanted to share some resources that I think would be really helpful for you and your kiddos.
The County of San Diego has done a nice job of having one spot to meet lots of needs. Check out the link below, and select the age group of your kiddos.
There is also this wonderful and FREE downloadable book that you can print out and have your kids color, or just read online. I will warn you it is long, however, I think they do a great job tackling some of the challenges happening around us. You can always take out pages that don't fit your situation. I read this with my 5 year old and we did have to take breaks, but she actually was really interested in the information. It led to some more conversation later. Download the book in the link below.
Lastly, here is a much shorter (and simpler) story to talk about COVID-19 and I love that it is in different languages! Check it out here.
Every family is unique, so if you or your child is really struggling, be sure to reach out to a professional to get the support that you need.