Is it time to panic -kid edition.
DISCLAIMER: Read the first Is it Time to Panic? post first. It will be less confusing that way. But I’m tired while writing this so it might be confusing either way.
Time to panic kid edition? The answer is still no. It is always going to be no. Do. No. Panic.
Panicking. Never. Helps.
If you couldn’t tell from my previous post I could talk about how powerful our thoughts are and how we can replace our negative thoughts with positive ones and be in the moment to better our lives…All. Day. Long.
(*super big side note: Do you know who Sally Squirrel is from the Pete the Cat TV series on Prime? If you don’t please find a way to meet her. She makes me so happy and now whenever I feel excited or passionate about something I hear her voice saying it. So if you do know of her, please reread the “all day long sentence above, again in her voice, and add “I started with one positive thought, then two, then I had to have all the positive thoughts!” at the end. Also if you Tweet (because I don’t know how to do that stuff) feel free to tweet this post to the voice of Sally Squirrel and the writers of the show, and tell them I love them.*)
Now that every Pete the Cat fan reading loves me more and the rest of you think I’m a whack-a-doo let move on to how to keep our kids calm.
First, read them the Pete the… Just kidding I get that I beat that joke to death.
Use Humor! This is scary for all of us and the kids. If we can still laugh they will too.
Please talk to your kids about what is going on as often as they want and sometimes when they don’t. Use age-appropriate language. I guarantee they are hearing about it elsewhere so let them hear about it from you. Also now we have to explain why school is closed.
I have a 5 and almost 3-year-old so the language is a little tougher to figure out. I told them there is a very bad germ called Coronavirus going around. (I used the name because I’m sure they have heard it) It probably won’t make kids sick but they can get it on their hands and spread it to grown-ups who could get very sick. (My kids suck their fingers so this was extra important.)
I told them we are going to be extra careful and not touch our faces and not hug our friends and family that we don’t live with right now. When school closed for them today I explained it as we are going to take a break from being around each other so that we would help stop the spread of the germs.
An analogy I have been using to help calm teens and adults and explain the idea of social distancing and flattening the curve is this: If I make a fire with just a lot of kindling it will make a big flame that dies out quickly but if I add some logs to kindling, I will get a smaller flame but a longer fire burn. I think many people had the first thought that the closures meant a dangerous superbug.
When we breathe and think about the facts it is a precaution to slow the process to make sure we don’t overload the medical system so we get the best care and save more lives.
Ask what they think they know and what questions they want to ask. This is really important to make sure their fear is reduced and they don’t feel any trauma experience from this health crisis. Sometimes kids create a script in their head based on what they interpret. This can create heightened fear.
We need to remember their world looks different than ours. Before schools closed their sports, such as little league, did. Some of us may have felt even a little relieved to have lighter schedules but for some of these kids, this was confusing and devastating.
Empty shelves, schools closed can make them think all sorts of thoughts. Find out what they are thinking. And if you don’t know the answers try and give it a positive spin. “I don’t know when this will be over but I do know it is not forever and we are going to make the best of it.”
Model feeling for them Now in the past I have mentioned it is good to let your kids see your emotions, see you cry. This is more for wanted emotions, positive ones, and ones that are healthy like grief.
If they see your anxiety or panic they will THINK they need to FEEL it too. And they will.
It is ok sometimes to say you are uncertain or worried or even a little scared but follow it with a positive. “I’m a little worried about the unknown of all this too but we currently have everything we need and we are healthy and we will learn together.”
Focus on them and things they want to think about. I don’t know about you but I’m sick of talking about COVID-19 I would love a mental vacation. Take one! Play a game with your kids. Watch a great movie. Ask them what adventure they want to do next, what they want to be when they grow up, where they want to travel. This will get you and them out of the scary thoughts in your head and thinking about happy things. Guess what you will feel? HAPPY!!
Let’s continue to support each other through all this. There is no handbook for parenting and certainly not for parenting during a three-week spring break with no attractions open and news that wants us desperately to succumb to the anxious thoughts. We will figure it out together.
Is it time to panic – kid edition? Still no!
One positive thought and calming breathe at a time.