Coronavirus has undeniably and drastically shifted norms in our society and despite your personal thoughts toward COVID-19, this shift has created a mental and emotional upheaval for all of us including our children. In the span of merely weeks, we have gone from public school to home school, social gatherings to social distancing and community confidence to chaos. This kind of shift is hard to fully grasp and often leaves children and teens with feelings of anxiousness and hopelessness.
These feelings may not be displayed as overtly with children and teens. They may be struggling with how to communicate their feelings or struggle to even find how to put them into words. This leaves them to communicate through behavior; they many act defiant, disobedient, disrespectful, or seem disengaged from family. Keep in mind, they have experienced a huge disruption to their normal lives and normal routine.
If this is the case with your child or teen, here are three ways to support them during this continued time of uncertainty:
- Communicate open and often. It is completely normal to talk about all the changes and struggles that have taken place over the past several weeks. Try to include your child or teen by reassuring them that they are safe. Ask them what facts they know about COVID-19. Where they learned it. What they think about it. And how they are feeling about it. The more they feel like part of the conversation, the more informed they are which translates into safety and security.
- Support and validate their emotions. No doubt your children and teens feel some level of anxiousness, hopelessness, frustration, sadness, etc. with all the changes COVID-19 has brought. Feelings of loss and disappointment, for example, due to not finishing the school year at school, or not getting to say goodbye to teachers and friends is completely normal. Help them understand that their feelings are okay and allow them to express those feelings in a healthy way.
- Create normalcy where you can. “Normal way of life” is something a little foreign to us lately. Children and teens thrive in environments with routine and a sense of normalcy. One way we can help them achieve this as parents is to set a routine. A routine might include a wake-up time and a bedtime, hygiene routines, and daily chores. Set expectations such as reading, time limits on electronics, and outdoor time. Allow them to create goals for themselves and find creative ways to connect.
Wyoming Center for Clinical Excellence wants to help you, your children, and your family successfully work through all of life’s challenges and restore hope to your lives. If you or your child/teen is struggling, call to book an appointment with Andrea, who specializes in children, youth, and families. Brian, who is a marriage and family therapist. Or, Agusta, who has vast experience working with children and teens.
You can book counseling sessions online (just complete the form below), or contact us at (307) 257-2610.