Getting through the Coronavirus Crisis with Children

The Government’s health experts advise that young people are a low-risk group for becoming sick with coronavirus. But us adults are all feeling the stress and strain of uncertain times ahead. We’ve come up with some useful tips for supporting your family through the corona crisis. Our children might not remember the danger of the virus itself, but what they will remember is a time of big emotions. We hope this article will help ground you a little and focus on what’s important.

1. Stay Positive

  • Savour the small moments. The smell of coffee, the feel of the warm shower on your back, hugging your children. When you stop to take in these moments, rather than let them rush by, you’re giving your brain a chance to process the pleasure, which boosts your serotonin, the feel good neurotransmitter that helps elevate your mood and make you feel calm.
  • Strengthen your connections. Now is the opportunity to spend quality time with our loved ones. Take the time to hug your children or partner, look them in the eyes, get down and play with your children. All of these gestures promote closeness and also boost your oxytocin, which is a hormone that bonds people and also has a calming effect on your body. When your oxytocin levels spike they tell your body to switch off cortisol, the stress hormone.
  • Look for the good in others, because there’s so much good in our community. These types of crises can bring out both the worst and the best in human nature. Philanthropists are donating money to scientists to find a cure. Doctors and medical staff are working overtime to help sick patients. Neighbourhoods are putting together care packages for people who are sleeping rough. People are posting positive messages on social media. Friends from across the globe reaching out to each other. When we tune into these positive aspects of the crisis, we are united in hope.

By trying to stay positive, you can potentially change your brain chemistry and build up your energy stores to help you cope with the other aspects of your day that have been made more difficult.

2. Manage your own anxiety

It’s completely understandable to be anxious right now (how could we not be?) but how we manage that anxiety has a big impact on our children. Keeping your worries in check will help your whole family navigate this uncertain situation as easily as possible.

Watch out for catastrophic thinking,” says Mark Reinecke, PhD, a clinical psychologist with the Child Mind Institute. For example, assuming every cough is a sign you’ve been infected, or reading news stories that dwell on worst-case scenarios. “Keep a sense of perspective, engage in solution-focused thinking and balance this with mindful acceptance.”

For those moments when you do catch yourself feeling anxious, try to avoid talking about your concerns within earshot of children. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, step away and take a break. That could look like taking a shower or going outside or into another room and taking a few deep breaths.

3. Limit consumption of news

Staying informed is important, but it’s a good idea to limit watching news and social media that has the potential to feed your anxiety, and that of your children. Turn the TV off and mute or unfollow friends or co-workers who are prone to sharing panic-inducing posts.

Take a social media break or make a point of following accounts that share content that take your mind off the crisis, whether it’s about nature, art, baking or crafts.

4. Check in with young children

Young children may be oblivious to the facts of the situation, but they may still feel unsettled by the changes in routine, or pick up on the fact that people around them are worried and upset. Plan to check in with younger children periodically and give them the chance to process any worries they may be having. Children who are tantruming more than usual, being defiant or acting out may actually be feeling anxious. Pick a calm, un-distracted time and gently ask how they’re feeling and make sure to respond to outbursts in a calm, consistent, comforting way.

5. Ask for help

If you need help, ask for it. All of us are in this together and all of us are going to need help with something at some point. Sesame Lane is working hard to ensure we do all we can to be able to continue to support our families and our centre teams during this challenging time. We might need your help too! If you need anything at all, please don’t hesitate to reach out.