What a confusing time we’re living in. Taking it one day at a time puts things into perspective, especially when little eyes are watching us to see how we deal with new and potentially stressful situations. Parenting isn’t easy at the best of times, let alone living through a pandemic, quarantined at home, exhausted and overwhelmed, so cut yourself some slack, let go of rigid expectations and focus on the now. Here are some other tips:
Trust that you know your child best, so let their questions be your guide as to how much information you wish to provide. Secrecy and silence won’t protect them, but being their source of reliable information will at least build trust between you.
Anxiety can present itself in many different forms and not all communication is done verbally. Challenging behavior is often a child’s way of expressing an unmet need so responding with L.O.V.E (Listen, Observe, Validate & Empathize), will diffuse an argument and strengthen connection
Get it out
Now is the perfect time to introduce journaling or keeping a diary to your kids. This fun and reflective habit of ‘brain-dumping’ daily thoughts into a safe and non-judgmental space is a fantastic way for young people to process difficult feelings and reclaim a sense of calm and clarity.
When in survival mode, we can be full of anxiety and stress without even realizing it. Grounding exercises are a powerful tool to interrupt anxious thoughts. For example: plant the balls of your feet on the floor and place one hand on your heart, the other on the top of your head and close your eyes to avoid distractions. Observe the sensation of weight resting on the crown of the head for two minutes. Another great exercise for kids to learn to stay in the moment is to try the 5-4-3-2-1 game, so find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can smell, 2 things you can touch and 1 thing you can taste.
Give and receive hugs, hugs and more hugs. Obviously, no hugs outside the family home for now. However giving a family member a super-charged power hug for 20 seconds not only feels wonderful, because it releases oxytocin into the body, which increases levels of love and connection, but it also reduces cortisol levels. That means less stress and anxiety, making us healthier and happier all round. Give yourself a target of 12 hugs a day for optimum results.
Do what feels good
Mental health is just as important as physical health, so while your physical activities might be limited at the moment, take this time to reconnect with yourself and practice self-compassion, turning acceptance and love inward. Comfort and nourish your body with good food, focus on gut health, get more sleep, meditate, run a bath, enjoy a good book. In short, do things that make you feel good.
Look to the future
One day Covid-19 will be nothing but a distant memory and when the storm clears, think about what you learned from it and which memories you want your family to take away from the whole experience.
• Lynette Tipper is a master coach and founder of Cocoon Coaching Solutions