It’s one thing trying to manage your own stress over these times, but if you have children, you need to help them navigate their emotions too. They’re still learning to regulate their own emotions (aren’t we all?) and they’re probably finding these recent dramatic changes in our world incredibly overwhelming and strange. Here are some tips to help you do that:
- We know it’s not always possible but try to manage your own emotions around them. Seeing you being ultra-stressed can cause your child to take on that stress too. This doesn’t mean that you should lie about how you’re feeling though, rather try and talk about your feelings in a calm and measured manner.
- Be aware of how you talk about events in front of them. Keep to the facts, answer their questions and be honest. Don’t give into fearmongering though, or provide them with unnecessary details that would make them feel overwhelmed or afraid.
- Encourage your kids to voice their feelings and if they struggle with words let them draw or act out what they feel or what scares them. Telling others how you feel always provides a great deal of relief, and the same will be true for your kids. You also can’t help them, until you know exactly what’s worrying them.
- Be patient with your children as these emotions can cause them to act out or behave in an unusual or withdrawn way. These feelings are new to them and they may not know how to deal with or process them.
- Let them know that this won’t last forever – reassurance helps them feel safe.
- Keep to your routine as much as possible, as this also contributes to their feelings of security. You could also try and establish little rituals or habits, such as Friday family pizza nights, giving them things to look forward to each week.
- Daily positive motivation also helps build the foundation for the emotions of feeling safe, secure and worthwhile. This doesn’t mean you have to gush unnecessarily but it does mean praising them for their hard work, good manners, kind behaviour or anything else positive.
Most of all, remember that your children model themselves on your behaviour, so make sure that you’re taking care of your own mental health first. To help you do this, keep an eye out this month for more mental health tips from Sasfin on social media, under the hashtag #MentalHealthMatters