Kids are resilient, sure! They are adaptable, yes! But they’re also very aware of–and influenced by–instability, insecurity and anxiety. And let’s face it–this year has been one of great change and insecurity. We’ve all had our routines switched up, our plans thrown out, and our everyday lives completely turned up-side-down. And quite frankly, more change could still be coming. But it doesn’t have to be all negative. It can also be a great time for your and your child’s connection and personal growth.
So now what? Good news: we’ve called in an expert to help guide us and our kids. Dr. Moira Creedon, a Pediatric Neuropsychologist, gives us simple tips for helping our kiddos keep their cool amidst all the chaos. (Note: These are pandemic, learning-specific tips, but they are useful for any/all change our kids may encounter.)
Be Open and Honest. Share information in a way that makes sense for the age of your kids. It is okay to say we are trying to stay healthy to prevent illness. You can link new routines to keep healthy (wearing masks, washing hands) with other safety routines at home or in school (a fire drill or escape plan). It’s okay to show and label your feelings in ways that suit the age of your child.
Make a Plan. Remind kids what will stay stable and consistent. They will still read books, do math problems, talk to members of their family on the phone or FaceTime!
Set Expectations. Be mindful of the age of kids when figuring out what expectations to set. This is especially true for any virtual learning. The attention span of kids can range from about 8-30 minutes! So give breaks and preview what is expected next for school work or chores. Visual reminders or checklists always help!
Be Ready to Pivot. We all feel stressed about the way we cannot plan for the next few months at a time. Focus on the structure of your week. This will help when we have to suddenly shift or change course so we don’t feel discouraged to have lost so many plans. Talk to your partners or others in your village about how you might respond to a sudden shift.
Bring in Reinforcements. You need your village now more than ever! Talk to your friends, family members, and partners about how to take care of yourself during this time of stress. You cannot pour from an empty cup! Reach out to others in times of stress to share the work and emotional weight of this uncertainty. And it helps when your village can infuse some laughter into your day!
Dr. Creedon has experience providing both therapy and neuropsychological assessment for children and teens, and is the mother of two (adorable!) children.