Over the past year, many children and families have found themselves struggling to make sense of the world around them. With the COVID-19 pandemic, E-learning stress, canceled activities, and a constant state of worry, parents have found it hard to help their children cope with so many changes and unknowns in life. Many parents who have reached out to Crosswinds Counseling report changes in behavior, such as quick tempers, feelings of fatigue, quick to frustration, and isolation for themselves as well as their children.
If you’re feeling this way, you are not alone. Here are five strategies to help your children cope with the stress they might be feeling, and get back on track to feel a sense of control, even in uncertain times.
1. Create a routine
Even if it’s temporary, a routine can help your children feel a sense of normalcy. With more students actively engaging in E-learning and more adults working from home, it’s very easy to forego a daily routine. One great way to break up the week is to pick a fun weekly activity to do as a family. This could be a family board game night, movie night, pizza night, etc.
Crosswinds Tip: One idea I share with my clients is to find a television series the whole family can enjoy, and rather than binging the whole thing in a few days, pick one night a week to watch a new episode. This will allow both you and your children to build anticipation throughout the week and have a consistent reason to be excited for that day.
2. Ask questions to help your children process
With all of the changes occurring in our daily lives, it’s important to offer children an appropriate outlet to process their emotions. One way to do this is to simply ask them questions that they can comfortably answer to help process what they are feeling. Many times, our children are unaware of why they feel the way they do. If you are noticing changes in your children’s behavior, ask them simple questions to gauge how they are feeling. One question to ask your child is “what are some things you miss doing?”
Crosswinds Tip: I work with clients every day who find it challenging to connect with their kids. This is completely normal. If you or your child are not comfortable asking and answering questions with each other, or you are uncomfortable with or don’t know how to make necessary changes, getting help from a counselor could make a tremendous difference in what your children remember about their experiences. A counselor can help offer an open outlet for you or your child to express their feelings, free of judgment, with a neutral third party.
3. Find ways to be active
Being cooped up in the house all day can lead to boredom, pent-up energy, and even increased feelings of anxiety. If you or your children are generally active or extroverted people, all the time spent at home may be distressing.
Crosswinds Tip: One thing that I recommend to clients is to create activities they can do together as a family. You could do an exercise program together, go for a walk, pack an indoor picnic, or even go ‘camping’ in the living room. Creativity reigns. If you’re stuck for ideas, do an online search for fun family activities you can do indoors.
4. Give Your Kids a Sense of Control
Whether you have one child or multiple children, it’s important to spend one-on-one time with them, especially during this period of time when they may not have as much social interaction. If you have multiple children, it’s important that you spend one-on-one time with each of them. You need to create a safe space with each of your children where they know you are available for them, but don’t force it. Crosswinds Tip: This doesn’t need to be some big elaborate thing you plan for your child. It can be as simple as taking a drive with your teen for a cup of coffee, grabbing a donut together, reading a book, playing video games together, or watching a movie.
Let Us Help You
Adjusting to change can be hard. But, it’s important to make sure that we as adults, and our children, are coping with change in a healthy way. We all need a space to express ourselves and understand what we want and how we feel. Whether you are creating new routines to help enforce a sense of normalcy, asking questions to help your kids process their emotions, finding ways to stay active and avoid going stir-crazy, or simply spending one-on-one time with them to let them know you are available for them, it’s important to provide them with healthy coping strategies to the challenges life has thrown at us.
If you don’t know where to begin or are personally struggling to adapt to change, we can help. You and your family can benefit from counseling. Visit crosswindscounseling.org or call 877-594-9204 to get matched with a therapist today. Let’s get you and your family back on the path to a healthy life!