How Will Your Children Remember This Moment?
Figure 1 Calvin the Cat gets another little friend.
At the Governor’s new conference, a few days ago, the Governor’s wife, Fran, gave some examples of how she is connecting with her grandchildren. Fran asked them to draw something from a story she planned to read to them over Zoom. While she read, they could show her their pictures. This kept the kids occupied during the day anticipating the moment when they could connect with Grandma and show her their art. Our children look to us for safety and protection.
Remember, our attitude can make all the difference. For all of us confined to the house and out of our regular work schedule, school schedule, friend schedule, this is a tough time. The chances are that tempers will flare, and reactions might become harsh and hurtful. Try stepping back a moment in compassion, to get a different perspective. What are your children feeling? Grandchildren? Foster children? Teens? Young adults? Your spouse?
Is something in your home creating fear? Many of us keep the radio or TV tuned to the news channel all-day. Try changing the channel on the radio or television to a station that plays music, old movies, or comedies.
For teens, Dr. Lisa Damour suggests we begin with compassion. They don't want to be cooped up with you any more than you want to be cooped up with them. A little understanding and acknowledgment that their feelings of frustration, which are likely hiding feelings of fear, are normal. They are dealing with so many lost opportunities right now; a graduation party, a prom, or a state tournament. Enlist their aid in problem solving and creating a schedule that respects their privacy, their need to connect with friends, and their life in close quarters with family. Help them engage with you in this challenging situation without being heavy-handed.
For children, according to the Child Mind Institute, helping them manage their fears is very important. Don't downplay their worries. Our natural response as caregivers is to make it better. "Be Brave. See you in the morning." You can help them by asking questions. One great way is to encourage them to tell you a story about their fears. Let them tell the entire story without interruption, then you can unpack what is going on in their mind. Validate their anxiousness while correcting any inaccurate information and let them know you are there for them. Many times bringing a fear out into the light of a loving adult can ease the impact.
Your own anxiety is as contagious as this virus, and our children pick up the fear you are transmitting. It is essential to take care of your own emotional well-being for the sake of your family. Take some time for yourself to read, take a walk, or enjoy a nap. How our children and loved ones remember this time depends on us. Make it an opportunity to create memories of a time when we were more together, we did things together, and we played together.
Play a game. Read a story. Draw a picture. Make some music. Share a memory. Zoom Grandma and Grandpa. Watch a cartoon.