Your child’s world can be turned upside in the blink of an eye. Take, for instance, this current pandemic that has affected us on a global scale. Children have had to trade school for homeschool and are left wondering about the scary illness that causes us to cling to our homes. Some children are even having to witness parents who have lost their jobs are stressed about paying the bills and putting food on the table.
But the pandemic isn’t the only thing that can make your child feel insecure. There are many other instances when a child may be left feeling uncertain or scared about what the future holds. Here are seven ways to help your children cope when their world is turned upside down, no matter what the situation.
1. Keep a Positive Mindset
A lot of how your child feels stems from how you handle unexpected situations. If you panic or seem unhappy, your child will likely feed off those feelings and her feelings will reflect yours. If instead, you find the positive in the situation and put those positive thoughts and feelings out there consistently, your child will likely respond in kind.
2. Be Available for Discussion
When children are uncertain about things, it’s natural that they want to talk about those things with someone they like and trust. They may turn to you. Or if you’re not available, they may turn to another relative or even friends. Make yourself available for your child and make it known that there is the time every single day to talk about whatever your child wants to discuss.
When your child is talking to you, stop and give your child your undivided attention. Listen closely and answer as best you can. You can also ask your child how he is feeling on a regular basis, which can prompt him to ask questions or start talking about something that’s bothering him.
You can also consider getting therapy for your child. Look for a therapist who specializes in treating children and understands that children need to be treated as children. For example, Alan Behrman Associates, P.C., a therapist in Alpharetta, states, “It’s ok to laugh, talk, and generally have a good time in our sessions while working on very difficult and complex situations and issues.”
3. Try to Maintain Normal Routines
Even when it seems like everything is changing and nothing is the same, try to keep normal routines in play as much as you can. This includes wake-up time, meals, chores, and bedtime. Also, be patient with your children (and yourself) as you learn to navigate new routines that may be thrust upon you because of an unexpected situation.
4. Create Opportunities for Fun
While you may not be able to go to the movies, have your annual BBQ or visit the theme park during times like these, you can create other opportunities for fun. Pull out playing cards, dominoes, and board games and have family game nights. Allow children to help with meal preparation. Play outdoor games in your backyard or take a walk around the neighborhood as a family. You can even join in activities that your child normally does alone, like playing some of his or her favorite video games.
5. Keep it Together
It can be tempting to watch the news constantly, but this type of behavior can cause anxiety in both you and your children. Keep tabs on what’s going on in the world via your phone instead of broadcasting grim details throughout your home by way of the family room TV.
If you do feel anxious or scared, keep those feelings in check. Discuss how you feel with your spouse in private or by calling a trusted friend or relative when no one is in earshot.
6. Call and Video Chat
Keep in touch with your friends and loved ones by calling and video chatting with them. And allow your kids to do the same. If your child is used to being around friends the majority of the time, being quarantined at home can be lonely and stressful. Just be sure you establish some ground rules for video chatting. If you have very young children, having grandma and grandpa call and read a story over video chat can also be a fun way to make connections.
7. Plan for the Future
One key thing to remember and to always help your children remember is that nothing lasts forever. There is a brighter future on the horizon. Although timelines can be indefinite, you can still talk about, “When this is over….” plans, such as a family outing or a vacation road trip. You can also take some time to dream. Ask your children to describe what they would consider their perfect day and then talk about how you can make some of those things come true now, while some things will have to wait until the future.