What to Say to Young Children During COVID-19 – 5 Tips to Use Today
We are one full week into our new schedules and lifestyles amidst the COVID-19 Virus. Some of you are settling in and others are still feeling very discombobulated. Either is just fine – adjustment takes time and you get to do it at your pace.
Your kids are adjusting too! Little children may not notice as much as school-age children but they are all ‘feeling’ it because you are too. The best thing you can do for your children as you adjust to whatever your new normal is and show them how to cope the best you and they can.
Here are some tips and phrases to use to help your kids cope, understand, and feel as calm a possible
Name it to Tame it
Name emotions – name yours and theirs! When you feel overwhelmed, say “I feel overwhelmed right now.” When your child is bored, say “You’re bored, it’s hard being bored. When we name emotions it taps into our nervous system and helps us feel calmer and better able to manage difficult things.
Horse Lip Breathing
Stop and breathe – Really, stop! Stand still, look around your and take three deep breaths! Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Describe this to your young child as ‘smelling a rose and blowing out a birthday candle’ or making ‘horse lips’ (when you blow out make your lips wiggle and make a noise like a horse blowing out air – its fun and silly).
What do you Think?
When your child asks you a question about school, the virus, grandma, etc., say: “What do you think?” before you answer the question. If they say “I don’t know”, Say “if you did know, what would you think?” This will help inform you of where to begin when you do answer their question. Whatever they say tells you a little bit about what they thinking and what they already know.
To help your child feel heard and seen repeat back to them whatever they say to you. This could be an emotion, a thought or a comment about their favorite TV show. For example: If your child says “you’re mean”, say “you think Im mean.” If they say, “I don’t want to get dressed”, say “you don’t want to get dressed.” If they say “the girl in the show got a puppy and then told her mother that the puppy chased the ball….” and you’re bored out of your mind with the storytelling, say “the girl in the show got a puppy and she told her mother that the puppy chased the ball….” Just repeat back what they said, like a mirror image. This will help your child feel that you are paying attention!
Snuggle and Offer Comfort
Find or create time to really snuggle in an enjoyable way. Being still and present while touching and holding will help tap into your child’s (and your own) nervous system in a deep and powerful way. Touch goes a long way to say ‘you’re ok.’ While your snuggling, add some loving words and describe how you feel sharing this close moment together. Try, “I love snuggling with you” or “your hugs feel so good.” Adding words to describe moments of comfort and touch enhances the sense of safety that your children will feel. It’s great for you too!
If you or your child are in need of extra support and would like to schedule an appointment, please reach out. You and your kiddo deserve it! Virtual sessions and groups available during this unique time.