Even the most independent kids depend on adults during stressful, unpredictable times. It can be difficult to know what to say and do to help ease their fears, keep them busy, encourage hope in the future, and help them to feel strong and capable. As any parent can tell you, children usually don’t let us know what they are thinking and feeling with their words, usually because they aren’t sure themselves. Even if they do know, they may not feel comfortable expressing themselves verbally, so we often have to figure out what they are trying to personally process after the tantrums, fighting, self-destructive behavior, and withdrawal have passed.
It is absolutely natural to feel nervous and uneasy right now, feeling like there is so much you cannot control or count on, not knowing what will happen in the future regarding your family’s health, finances, education, and more. We cannot let it consume us for our own sake, as well as our children’s, so do not hesitate to get help for yourself.
When we are feeling anxious as parents, our kids can pick up on it. Children are natural empaths who can often tell what you’re feeling and thinking before you even say a word.
Children want to help and will often do anything to try to make their parents feel better, but you don’t want to put them in a situation where they feel like they have to take care of you, especially at the expense of themselves.
So, what can you do as a parent or grandparent, aunt or uncle to help children of all ages feel safer?
Take care of yourself —
As is the case with any situation, if you are depleted, you can’t take care of anyone else. Eat healthy, exercise, release stress, get outside, etc.
Help them connect —
Whether it’s with friends or relatives, children need to socialize even more than adults. If older relatives don’t know how to use video chats or email, this is a good opportunity to teach them.
Be patient —
They may get on your nerves and want more of your time, especially if they are bored, but that is understandable. If we want our kids to be patient with us and our shortcomings, we must extend the same courtesy to them.
Help them find things to do —
Art projects, treasure hunts outside, cooking, games, the possibilities are endless (and all posted online). As much as possible, engage in these activities with them. Learn to meditate if you don’t already and ask them to join you.
Listen and observe —
Kids tell us what they need through their actions and words. Ask questions but don’t push. Let them know that they can talk to you.
Take good care of them —
Teach them about hand washing and why you are doing it. If you are making masks, let them help you. Help them feel empowered and know that you are taking action so they don’t feel helpless.
Help others if you can —
You can do it from the safety of your home. I know people who are raising money for meals and taking donations of supplies for healthcare and other essential workers, picking up trash around the neighborhood, grocery shopping for people who can’t, walking dogs, and so much more. Many of them have children who are thrilled to be helping.
Katie Beecher, MS, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Medical and Emotional Intuitive with over 30 years of experience. Her work has been featured on Goop and Poosh. She has a unique way of working with clients, creating a detailed, individualized, physical, emotional, and spiritual report and symbolic painting before ever seeing or talking with them. She is currently working on a book outlining her journey helping people in the Medical Intuitive fields.