As we all navigate the new normal of the Covid-19 pandemic, we need to place priority on the emotional health of our youngest generation. The little ones (with big ears!) listening to conversations, watching the news alongside us, and in tune with their parents’ mood and anxiety.
While quarantine life and social distancing are new norms for all of us, it’s important to check in on young children and assure them in positive ways. Kids need our attention and validation to feel safe and protected.
We can help foster emotional health with comforting affirmations and an open dialogue about what’s unfolding around us. Here are 5 powerful things to tell your kids when the world seems scary and out of control.
I love you, you are safe.
Safety and security are at the core of a child’s emotional health. Remind them of all the people looking out for them and protecting them. Let them know that you are taking every precaution to keep them safe. Help them recognize how strong and capable they are.
This will pass.
Turn this into a teachable moment. Life is full of unknowns and unpredictable changes, but tough times don’t last. Drive that point home. Teach them how to weather the storm, and to ride out ups and downs.
When age appropriate (great breakdown of how to approach the conversation by age group here), provide facts and context to kids to eliminate rumors or exaggerations. Setting the story straight is helpful when kids hear stories from friends or let their imaginations run wild.
Child: “Johnny said this is the end of the world.”
Response: “Yes, people are getting sick and unfortunately, some are dying. But this is not the end of the world, and it will pass as long as we do everything in our power to protect ourselves and others by staying home and practicing good hygiene.”
When your kids ask questions, be honest. Denying that there is a public health emergency sends conflicting messages and creates distrust.
I know this is hard. What do you need from me?
Acknowledge that the situation is difficult. Your validation shows your children that you respect them and are paying attention to their fears.
Asking what you can do to help provides the opportunity to learn what comforts them. Provide ways to cope with the anxiety that presents during times of crisis. Have an open dialogue about ways to support each other.
Affirmations to soothe anxiety:
- I have the power to do hard things.
- This world has light, air, food, and comfort just for me because I’m loved and cherished.
- Happiness and gratitude come easily to me.
- I always see the bright side or lessons in my life.
- I will spread and attract good things everywhere I go.
- I am calm and handle all challenges with ease.
- I empathize with those in need and send loving thoughts their way.
Let’s find joy in what we have.
Teach your kids to practice gratitude. This will carry them through this time and other challenging obstacles that come up in life. Point out the simple things to be grateful for right now such as a warm home, food, toys, etc.
Look for the helpers.
Yes, the bright side. The antidote to any tragedy or disaster are the community helpers that rise to the occasion. Point out the humans helping humans in big and small ways.
Help your child recognize and appreciate those that are creating solutions for the greater good. Have a conversation about the small ways they too, can make an impact (washing hands, staying home, donating to food banks, etc). Having a positive to focus on can mitigate the anxiety kids may be experiencing.
For more parenting resources:
Helping Children Cope with Changes as a Result of Covid-19
How to Talk to Kids and Teens about the Coronavirus
Fostering Your Child’s Mental Health
We hope your family benefits from these powerful things to tell your kids when the world seems scary. Check us out on Facebook and get involved!