The news can be full of scary stories and information, especially for children. Our current situation has brought about even more concern for everyone in the world. If adults are feeling panicked, imagine how children must be feeling. And no matter the age, children can be emotionally affected by the news and begin feeling anxious about what they are hearing. For this reason, it’s important for parents to spend time connecting with their children and implementing ways that help them feel secure.
During this worldwide turmoil, parents may also feel unsure and struggle with what to say to their children. But this is the time when parents should take the opportunity to help members in the family reconnect with each other, which will help everyone feel more secure. Having honest discussions about what everyone is feeling is vital to processing the information in a healthier way. It’s important that parents have these conversations to help ease fear about our “new normal” and implement strategies that will leave children feeling more assured.
Attunement, connection, patience and nurturing are a good place to start in regards to what we are facing, as a nation, today. It’s important for parents to be attuned to their child’s feelings regarding the overflow of information and being separated from their friends. Being patient with them with questions they may have or frustrations they may feel are important. Spending time connecting with them is essential to them feeling more secure and nurturing them through these tough times will help them feel more at ease.
In helping children feel more comfort in these times, implementing strategies that will boost positive brain chemicals and neutralize cortisol, which is released when we are stressed or fearful, is helpful. Parents can increase dopamine by setting up time for families to do fun activities together. Setting up face-time, zoom or any other means to connect with family and friends. Giving hugs and spending time connecting with each other increases oxytocin which fosters trust and stability. By setting a positive mood, parents can increase serotonin which will make everyone more at ease. And boosting endorphins by going for a walk as a family or doing an online workout together will put everyone in a better mood.
In uncertain times, families can ease the anxiety by connecting with each other and making the best of the situation. By finding ways to boost the positive chemicals in the brain, parents can create an environment that fosters security for their family. In doing this, a stronger family bond will be created and getting through the tough times, together, will be easier. It takes a village. We will rise together!