Coronavirus: Helping Kids Cope
Coronavirus. COVID-19. ‘Rona. Whatever you want to call it, there’s no arguing that it is taking a toll on everyone in different ways. The news surrounds us with numbers and statistics that can seem overwhelming. Health, economy, the well-being of loved ones – it’s a different world than we lived in just a few months ago.
Now, imagine being a kid.
If you’re a parent, you know how much your own life has been affected. Working parents, stay-at-home parents, homeschool parents now have to face the challenge of helping their children adjust to a “new normal” which includes a substantial level of isolation.
Imagine being a child who can no longer see their friends and teachers; they can’t experience those end-of-year activities and rites of passage.
Parents of young children are uncertain what this means for registering and entering Kindergarten; and parents of older kids face the uncertain transition into their next stage.
Several parents I have spoken with have shared their challenges doing school assignments with their children. Kids are suddenly apathetic to school, dance, Karate, and other activities that are still happening in a virtual setting.
My oldest son is facing these same challenges and showing this same lack of interest in previous activities. But why?
Kids need structure and routine. Structure and routine give children a sense of safety because it is predictable. When that routine is changed, so is the child’s sense of stability and normalcy – the very things they need to feel safe.
And when a person – a child or an adult – no longer feels safe, they begin to act differently. Children often express that through their behavior.
When a parent tells me about a recent behavioral change in their child, my first question is, “What has changed in their life?”
Sometimes, a parent will respond, “Nothing!”
But after talking, they’ll say, “Well, they’re in a new class at school” or “Their absent father started calling the house” or something that the parent just didn’t think about initially. So, we talk about how to help the child navigate that change so we can see their typical behavior return.
But with sheltering-in-place, we know what the change is. In fact, there are a lot of changes.
So what can we do to help children cope with this change when they start demonstrating challenging behavior?
Time to Establish a New Routine
Obviously, we cannot change our current situation. For the time-being, there’s no going back to our old routine. We, and our kids, are S-T-U-C-K. So we have to create a “new normal. This is so important because the habits and routines we establish now become the habits and routines our children will depend on later.
The silver lining here is that if there has ever been a time to hit the reset button on anything, that time is now.
Create a Schedule
Seriously, order a piece of poster board from Amazon and make a schedule and make it visible for everyone in the household. Schedule time for school, and time for exercise. Schedule mealtimes and bedtimes. And don’t forget to schedule time for FUN.
Get Kids Active
Do not let your kids get lazy, indifferent, or lacking in activity. Get them active now. Fight the battle now while they’re still used to activity. Because as they become more accustomed to inactivity, the harder it will be to break them from that. It’s like Newton’s Law First Law of Motion – an object in motion, stays in motion; an object at rest, stays at rest.
Do Your Research
Find out about virtual activities going on. As businesses across the globe have been forced to close, many have moved into the virtual world. Zoo Atlanta has been releasing stories and videos from the animal keepers, for example. The Georgia Aquarium runs the Ocean Voyager webcam for people to watch their favorite fish…acting…fishy.
By the way, Master Pattillo Martial Arts is helping kids stay physically and mentally active, teaching confidence, focus and respect…with 2 weeks of FREE classes on our Virtual Instruction Platform. Spaces are limited, so Reserve Your Spot TODAY!
Change is inevitable and this, too, shall pass. Kids will go back to school, adults back to work. Establish positive routines and habits so your children feel safe in this uncertain new world. And when they have good routines, there will be much more time for fun and making great memories.