Children carry & react to stress in different ways. They know that their world is changing but they are not able to communicate how they feel and what they need.
As parents and teachers, it’s our job to guide children from a young age on how to be able to relax their minds in any given situation, especially ones that affect their school routine and involve social distancing and quarantine. We have created a list of helpful techniques on how to discuss COVID-19 and help your children learn how to take a deep breath to reduce any fear and anxiety they may be feeling at this time.
Be supportive. Now is the time for love, understanding, and guidance on how to soothe yourself and calm your mind.
1. Teach Calming Breath
When people start to feel anxious or tense, they naturally tend to take rapid, shallow breaths. The simple act of breathing slowly and deeply can reduce feelings of stress. Have your child practice this move: Breath in slowly through the nose…hold for a few seconds…and then slowly exhale through the mouth. Repeat several times.
2. Acknowledge and talk about anxiety
Make sure your response to their feelings is kind. Try to look at the situation from their point of view. Give some extra love and your full attention. Squeezing a squishy ball or hugging a stuffed animal can help your child release built-up tension These actions also encourage your child to focus on what their hands are doing, distracting them from whatever is causing anxiety.
Children need to feel heard, especially when upset. Eye contact dramatically helps them feel that way. Allowing them to talk about how they are feeling without judgment will help make leaps and bounds when learning how to relax and control oneself. Reassure them of your continued pursuit to keep them safe and secure. Create an environment that fosters play and movement.
4. Get some perspective
Think about all the stress you deal with throughout the day. Now think about the demands that are put on your child. As adults, we know how to (or at least how we should) deal with stress, but our children are not yet equipped with all of the resources on how to manage their burdens.
5. Teach meditation
This would be a great time for us to teach our children the practice of meditation. Mediation is such a powerful stress-relieving tool. We can help them understand how to set intentions and the ability to help adapt to the changing and stressful world around us.
Link to Mindfulness/Meditations For Children exercises to get you started:
6. Keep a regular schedule
Remember, everyone thrives on a routine. Make sure that you try to keep the “normal” schedule during the next few weeks. With that being said, your kids may take time to adjust to all of the events that are taking place, such as social distancing, quarantine, and preschool cancellation. Give them and yourself a break and just do the best you can! Keep your children close, only separating if needed and relying on the family as caregivers. Ensure that regular contact continues if a family member is hospitalized. Reassure your preschooler they are loved and being protected.
7. Continue learning at home
Try to keep to a regular routine during this time of transition and disorder. You may find yourself needing to adapt to a new routine as far as childcare & preschool is concerned. With public school cancellations & distance learning days from home being advised in states all over the country, homeschooling is a time of reflection and time to bond; slow down. Keep things simple and remember that self-exploration in a safe environment is what you can provide. When learning is fun and enjoyable it creates well-adjusted individuals with a purpose in life. Children who experience the joy of learning are happy, confident and fulfilled.
Free at-home learning resources:
Talk openly with your child. Give them facts and try to explain in an age-appropriate manner what is going on and the steps you are taking as a family to do your part to help keep YOU safe as well as other members of the community. Talk about the precautions to take and hygiene steps, the symptoms of the virus and why we need to all practice hygiene and social distancing.
Be honest about how it could potentially affect older family members if they were to contract the virus and what to plan for in that event. If a family member does get sick, encourage your child that there are medical professionals that will help, who are there to provide services in order for everyone to feel better.
Learning to de-stress is an essential practice to learn as a human being. There are so many wonderful resources out there to help your son or daughter get excited about calming the mind and learning how to integrate it into his or her routine whether at school, during a social outing, or at home!
We hope you will find some comfort in the coping strategies listed above. Your goal is to foster that built-in desire to soak up information and investigate the world around them, feel safe, & adjust to the situation we are facing as a nation.
We will follow up with more information regarding the COVID-19 procedure & safety precautions each week as we are updated. Please reach out with any questions or advice in the meantime by calling 203-403-7271.
The safety of our students, their families, & our staff is a top priority at this time.