Children everywhere are facing substantial social and emotional challenges. From sudden school closures to the disruption of daily routines, the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has been overwhelming for everyone.
Helping children feel safe and secure is a top priority, so we’ve compiled a few ways you can help your child feel less stressed and more in control of their day-to-day lives.
In an article published by the Child Mind Institute, clinical psychologist Jerry Bubrick argues that one of the most effective ways for parents to alleviate a child’s anxiety is to model a sense of calm and composure. “If we’re showing our kids catastrophic thinking and head-in-your-hands worry, and crying and fear, then they’re going to learn that’s the way to handle the times now,” Bubrick said. To help with this, Bubrick recommends limiting the number of articles or types of media that are making you anxious. Additionally, he suggests that parents focus not on what might happen, but instead on the present moment by practicing mindfulness techniques.
Turning Off the HOSE
In an article for PBS, writer, educator and parent Deborah Farmer Kris explains that she developed an acronym to help both her children and students. Comprised of four questions anyone can ask themselves when they feel particularly stressed, each part of the “HOSE” acronym addresses an issue that can contribute to feeling overwhelmed:
- H: Am I hungry?
Hunger is a big contributor to how we feel. According to Kris, not eating for a while causes our blood sugar levels to decrease. When this happens, it triggers the release of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol — the very same chemicals that are released when we’re stressed. A simple healthy snack break at predictable times during the day can help to regulate how your child is feeling.
- O: Am I overstimulated?
After a long day or a difficult situation, sometimes children experience tantrums and meltdowns because they do not know how to regulate some of the intense feelings they have. Kris believes that overstimulation can trigger these kinds of outbursts and that parents can help their children relax by encouraging them to engage in some unstructured playtime.
- S: Do I need to sleep?
According to child psychologist Lisa Damour, “sleep is the glue that holds human beings together.” We’ve all experienced how out of sorts we can feel when we don’t get enough sleep. During stressful times such as these, maintaining a healthy sleep routine is especially important. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend children from ages three to five get 10 to 13 hours of sleep a day, and school-aged kids from six to 12 get between nine and 12.
- E: Do I need to exercise?
A little physical activity can go a long way in helping children regulate their mood and improve their focus and cognitive abilities. Kris suggests trying fun activities like a “family dance party,” which will not only help younger kids to de-stress but will also to give everyone in the family the opportunity to come together, connect and enjoy each other’s company.
What Works for Your Family?
Have you found effective ways to help your child manage stress? We would love for you to share your experiences with us on our Facebook page.
For more ideas and activities you can do with your child at home, stay tuned to our blog.