It is almost impossible not to have increased stress and anxiety and stress at a time when we are living through a period like no other before. There is literally no playbook. Even our leaders are figuring it out as they go along. Even in normal times, Anxiety disorders are one of the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorders in the United States with a lifetime prevalence rate between 10 and 25 percent. Now that we are all cooped up together with the numbers of Covid-19 cases raising daily it is easier than ever to pass our anxiety on to our children.
As any parent knows children see and hear everything; whether or not they listen is a whole other issue. (There is a sock in the middle of my living room floor for three days now – no one has apparently heard me tell them to pick it up!) However, kids hear those little conversations adults whisper in the next room and pick up on the increased snaping and yelling, they pick up on your tense body language and fatigue. They see your needed hypervigilance about cleaning and the worry on your face.
So what how can you help from passing all of this stress and anxiety on to your kids?
- Give them honest facts about Covid-19 at an age-appropriate level. The CDC has a great guide to help you.
- Sit down either as a family or one-on-one with your kids and ask them what they are worried about. Write it all down and then work together about solutions letting them take the lead.
- If they are worried their friends are going to forget about them, ask them if they have ideas on how to connect with them while remaining apart.
- Many high school students are missing important milestones and there may not be an answer on how to make up for those. But reassure them that that worry is valid and you are available anytime to listen and help them find a solution when the time is right.
- Your family might be one of the thousands dealing with the economic impact.
- Again your kids know even if they are 5 years old. Be honest about how you as a family are going to have to make some temporary changes but that you are working with all the resources available to keep their home as normal as possible. Point out all of the fun free things you can do together. Remind them that everyone is cutting back right now. No one is going to the movies!
- You have probably seen making a daily schedule is critical, I agree it is helpful but I am also realistic. If you have parents who are trying to work from home and figuring out home-school at the same time a daily schedule may be nearly impossible. Accept that have everyone pitch in. Let the kids know that the adult(s) are doing the best they can and you need their help.
- Try to plan out what a day or two is going to look like in advance. Maybe the kids can have school for an hour between your online meetings. If they are older maybe they can work more independently of you.
- If the day doesn’t go to plan? Don’t worry about it.
Remember, you are not supposed to be a parent, teacher, employee, and chef, and entertainment coordinator at the same time. It is too much for anyone. Lower your expectations and when possible put all your expectations aside and choose connection. That will look different in every household. It may be teaching your child how to cook or garden. It may be playing cards and board games or watching movies on the couch. But whatever your family chooses to do make sure it is what you want and not what looks good for Instagram.
At the end of the day, ask yourself and your family what are we doing well? What went right today? What did you enjoy? The answers will probably surprise and delight you!
I created the Food Allergy Institute to provide the unique support you need. Whether you’re seeking information on how to be your child’s best advocate, or you’re in search of ways to manage your own anxiety- I’ve developed the tools and resources, so you don’t have to go at this alone.
Contact me today for your FREE consultation, and let’s get through this together.