Posted by Jennifer Cohen Harper
We live in a time of high uncertainty and with adults increasingly concerned about the coronavirus, including the impact on the economy, work, school and family life. it is inevitable that the children of our lives will notice this tension.
When the nervous systems of parents, educators, and other adult authority figures are activated, it acts as a warning to children, whose own nervous system is activated as a result.
After all, if those in charge seem scared, it only makes sense to be worried.
While we can’t eliminate the transmission of our own anxiety to children from our lives, we can mitigate the impact in some significant ways:
Manage your own nervous system: Do what you can to support your own well-being and manage your own fears. Remember that simply intentionally lowering your breath and feeling your feet on the ground can help calm your nervous system. Here’s a wide range of useful resources specifically on coronavirus and health anxiety from the American Anxiety and Depression Association.
Be honest but not alarmist: Children hear their elders talk and see their concern, and if on top of all that we are secrets, they let them manage their fears alone. It’s important that we share what’s going on with the kids (let’s be simple!), And give them time to ask questions. Here’s a great NPR resource that can help you with your comic book conversation.
Teach children what to do: Being able to act in a situation that feels threatened is often very helpful. No doubt you’ve heard all the recommendations for washing your hands often, and you’re likely to tell your children to do so. Making the direct connection to them that every time they do a good hand washing, not only help themselves but also others, can make things feel a little less out of control.
Assure them that the adults are there: Tell the children explicitly that some of the smartest and most educated doctors and scientists in the world are working to learn more about this virus every day, that you are paying attention to what is going on, and that you will talk to them about anything new. For many children, this type of direct language allows them, in fact, to externalize their concerns. If the person in charge is honest, they should not try to find out.
Reduce anxiety with exercise and fresh air: Children’s anxiety often has to be addressed from the body up, and one of the fastest ways to change the biology of anxiety in our body is with outdoor exercise. Take advantage of the early spring weather and have your children walk or run outdoors, on bikes and scooters, on hiking trails and anything else that is within your reach. Do it as a family and you will also reduce your own anxiety!
Want to learn more about how you can help children manage their anxiety? Take a look at our own course, Navigating Anxiety in Children: Coping with Stress with Inner Strength, created in collaboration with the Omega Institute.
#Ways #Children #Coronavirus #Anxiety
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