Creative Child

Protecting Your Child’s Mental Health During the Pandemic

by Rebecca Eanes

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Manage anxiety and anger.

Each and every family member is dealing with their own set of unique feelings and coping skills, and this can sometimes lead to frustrations spilling over and yelling. These outbursts, whether by the kids or the parents, only add to the anxiety and fears that everyone is feeling, so it’s critical to do what we can to mitigate negative feelings before they explode. Self-care is one piece to the puzzle as we will all have a little longer fuse if we have our needs met. Practicing and teaching the coping skills in the next section will also help to dispel anger and anxiety.

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Teach coping skills.

There are many different ways to cope with emotions, and different things work for different personalities. I like to journal or do yoga. One son likes to bang on his drums while the other prefers art. It doesn’t matter how you cope as long as you know what soothes you and you have the means to do it. 

Now is the time to talk to your kids about how to manage their feelings and discuss which coping skills they feel works for them. If it’s art, make sure they have adequate art supplies. If they like to squeeze away the stress, help them make some playdough filled balloons for stress balls. Teach them that, while all feelings are normal and acceptable, they do have the power to choose certain thoughts and the ability to work through tough feelings to find their way back to joy. 

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Make connections.

Nothing takes the place of the face-to-face connections they had with their friends, but we can help them maintain some connection with friends and family during this time of social distancing by utilizing technology. Now may be the time to relax with limits on social media a bit, depending on what you know your child can handle. For kids who don’t have social media to connect with friends, try Zoom meetings or FaceTime chats or just a good old-fashioned phone call with grandma. The point is that we may have to facilitate these connections or encourage our more shy or introverted children to reach out, and that we emphasize the importance of connecting with others. 

Above all, try to keep an optimistic frame of mind and speak positive words in your home. Look for the good things going on in the world and in your own community and discuss how you can each add to that goodness. When you focus on positivity, that’s what grows, and where positivity grows, fear and anxiety will not take root. 

Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 

 

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