Children often respond to big changes in life with a range of different emotions.
Right now, there are lots of big changes in the world. Your child’s routines have
changed in big ways. Plus, if your child is aware of the coronavirus outbreak, this is
another big change. In addition, you may be feeling more stress and anxiety too,
which your child can sense, no matter how hard you try to hide it.
It’s understandable that as a result of these changes, your child might express a
range of different emotions. You might expect your child to show sadness about
not going to school or fear and anxiety about the COVID-19 illness. However, in
addition to these emotions, children might also express frustration, anger or may
seem withdrawn. You may expect to see a range of different emotions from your
child as a response to these changes.
Here are some tips for responding to these emotions in a loving, comforting way
that will help your child manage the difficulty of these big changes:
Listen: One of the most important things you can do is listen to your child and
validate their feelings. Depending on your child’s behavior, you might say, “I can
tell you’re very upset,” or, “I’m sorry you’re feeling so bad.”
Find Ways to Connect: Emotions that trigger unwanted behavior may be a sign
that your child is feeling a loss of control or needs quality time with you. Even
during these stressful times, try to find special time that you can spend with your
child. A special moment might involve snuggling on the couch to read a book
together, playing your child’s favorite game or even colouring together. During
these times of connection, your child might feel safe enough to talk more about
their feelings or ask questions.
Model Ways to Manage Feelings: Big changes in life can be frustrating, confusing,
and just, generally upsetting! As adults, we can model how to talk about big
feelings. It’s okay to acknowledge your feelings when you feel like you’re about to
lose your cool. Tell your child how you’re feeling! You can say, “I’m feeling upset
and overwhelmed because.....but together we can...” That’s not to say you should
use your child for your own emotional support. However, occasionally telling your
child about your feelings can help normalise talking about feelings.
You can also practice expressing big feelings together. Why not punch some pillows
together if your child is feeling angry? Or even have a pillow fight? You could also
help your anxious child by practicing taking deep breaths together or doing a
meditation routine such as lighting a candle and sitting quietly for a few minutes.
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Through this time, it’s important to be patient with yourself and with your
children. We hope the above tips and strategies will help you enjoy life as much as
possible with your children and students during this global pandemic.
During this worldwide time of change, remember that the youngest members in
our society are watching us. Perhaps they’ll remember having heard the word
“coronavirus.” Let’s try to make their memories as positive as possible and filled
with family time at home, supportive teachers, and feelings of community.
Together, even from afar, we’ll get through this and support our little ones through
this period of uncertainty.