|Posted on 6 May, 2020 at 21:25|
Written by Jessica Parker (May 2020) Covid19 or Corona Virus have become common words that can be heard in all households over the last few months. Our worlds have been turned upside down by this global pandemic. And this can be particularly scary for children! It’s important to know that children experience complex feelings just like adults, however, young children usually don’t have the vocabulary to talk about how they are feeling. Imagine for a moment how worried or anxious you may have been feeling lately, now try and describe it without using any feeling words like scared, anxious or worried. Yup, this may be how your child is feeling, all mixed up and overwhelmed and this often leads to behaviour that we see as ‘playing up’ or ‘acting out’.
Here are 5 ways that you can help your child deal with these big emotions:
1. Bibliotherapy: Bibliotherapy which is also sometimes called “book therapy" is a fancy way of saying that we use storytelling or the reading of specific texts with the purpose of healing. This is such a wonderful tool as it gives children the opportunity to step back from her/his problem which allows them a safe avenue to investigate their feelings. There are so many wonderful books available for children and of course heaps of free books available online, all you need to do is google free stories for kids about x (feelings, anger, sadness or whatever you would like to focus on). Or my personal favourite is to look up ‘kids stories read aloud’ on youtube. You could even help your child come up with their own story, which can be a lot of fun drawing and putting together.
2. Get Active: Research shows that keeping physically active is critical to boosting mood. Boredom and pent up physical energy can quickly turn to frustration and meltdowns. Avoid this by making sure that regular physical activity is a part of your family's routine. 'Activity' can include anything from games of Simon Says to kids yoga. Again, YouTube has some fun follow along videos and websites such as Go Noodle which have plenty of exercises and activities to keep your little ones busy for ages.
3. Breathing: Breathing is one of the most useful tools we can teach our child. Teaching children to breathe provides them with a simple but effective strategy for slowing down, both mentally and physically, helping them to take notice of how they’re feeling and to relax or calm down in the face of overwhelming emotions. Deep breaths send oxygen to the brain, soothing the amygdala, a small area in the middle that acts as the brain’s alarm system. There are so many fun ways to teach relaxed breathing. Here is one called Elephant Breathing: Stand with your feet wide apart and your arms dangling in front of your body like an elephant’s trunk. As you breathe in deeply through your nose, raise your arms up high above your head. Then slowly swing your arms down again as you breathe out through your mouth.
4. Routine: Routine gives children a sense of security and helps them to feel like they have some control over their world. Maintaining this routine doesn't need to be super strict and should allow for flexibility, aim to keep things like bedtimes and bath times similar each day.
5. Play: Not only is play an important part of development, but it is also a natural stress reliever for children. You can help facilitate your child’s play by arranging safe places for play, providing some playthings that allow for creativity and imagination such as building blocks or play dough and join in when invited, following the child’s lead and resisting the urge to direct, criticise or turn play into a lesson. It is important to remember that while your child may be allowed some ‘screen time’ to play video games, this does not replace the active, creative and imaginative ‘playtime’.