GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - Many parents are looking for ways in which to help their children through the Covid-19 pandemic. Children may feel frustrated, sad, or anxious about their loss of friendships.
They may have strong reactions to isolation and miss being able to play games with their friends. Young children may long to blow off steam through active games.
Older children may miss belonging or identity they gain from their friendships. Many parents are also feeling frustrated, scared, and overwhelmed.
Here are a few things you can do to guide your family through the pandemic:
Take care of yourself
Kerry Magnus, a Cape Town psychologist in private practice emphasises that to look after your children, you need to look after yourself first. She explains that children take their emotional cues from their parents.
No matter how attentive you are to your children, they will feel concerned if you spend your days weeping in the bathroom. This doesn’t mean hiding your emotions from your children.
Kerry explains that children will pick up any feelings you try to ignore. Instead acknowledge your feelings and be gentle with yourself. You are trying to cope in the best way you can, in the middle of a global pandemic.
By taking time for self-care as well as monitoring how you feel, you’ll be able to be the calm to your children’s storm.
Kerry recommends talking time for yourself every day to meditate or dance. You could also spend time outside. Self-care will assist you to cope. Show yourself compassion. You, too, are missing your friends. You might even miss the people you used to surround yourself with every day.
Empathise with your children
If you see your children are facing struggles with home or school work, empathise with them. Encourage them to explore what is wrong. Kerry suggests asking questions such as ‘What is happening for you?” and empathising with your children. “It’s always scary when you are working on new problems.”
She recommends asking your children to help find solutions with you. Choices are empowering for children and prevent them from feeling helpless. Choices are empowering for children and prevent them from feeling helpless.
Create a sense of calm
Children often feel and express their emotions. This means storming about in rage or collapsing into a sad heap on the floor. Kerry shares the importance of assisting your children to deal with emotions.
“By empathising with your children’s feelings, you will be able to assist them to feel understood. Ask your children how they feel and reflect these emotions back to them. Terms such as ‘sad, mad, bad or glad’ are often helpful for small children.”
Kerry explains that you can also encourage your child to breathe into their feelings. Ask your child to identify the physical sensation they are feeling. This could be ‘butterflies in my tummy’. Encourage them to and breathe deeply into the affected area. Ask them to imagine a coloured light seeping into the butterflies. This can help to calm and soothe your child.
Tension is held within the body. It can create feelings of restlessness or frustration. Encourage your children to move around, play tag, dance, or even shake their limbs. This will help them to release any restless or frustrated energy. If you can go for long walks together as a family, this will help both you and your children to feel a sense of release.
Encourage your children to maintain their connections
Children can still maintain social relationships. even if this is in new ways. Encourage your kids to maintain contact with their friends. This can happen via social media and video calls. Kids can also write letters to their friends or create drawings. This will help them to keep connections established. Older children may be able to join together in video games.
Ecopsychologist Theodore Roszak explained that nature offers a sense of belonging. This is true even during times of stress or crisis. Spending time outside is one of the safest ways of connecting during Covid. Andy Fisher, another ecopsychologist, explains that a connection to nature is a deep human need, which is often overlooked.
While children are free to play outside, they become aware of their deep sensuality. They can see the interconnections between plants and animals. Sight, scent, and touch add richness to the world.
Spend more time together
You could choose to play board games, go for long walks, bake or build a jigsaw puzzle. You might even take time for imaginary play. By spending time with your children you will be able to build your relationship with them.
You’ll also be able to show them that connections exist and that there is fun to be had, even during difficult times. Enable your children to see that wonder, kindness, empathy, and connection still exist, despite Covid. This will enable them to survive the crisis.
And calm children will enable you to feel more in control of your life too.