Okay parents, we did it. We officially survived an entire year of this pandemic.
Were there rivers of tears? Check. Exhaustion beyond belief? Yep. Words and actions that we likely regret saying and doing? Without a doubt. Yet, are we still showing up, day in and out, despite not knowing what’s coming next? Yes. We are.
Because, that’s what we do, despite all the tears, exhaustion, and anxiety. We show up for our kids.
As a parent myself, I have lived through all of this; the heartache and heartbreak, reaching my boiling and breaking points, hoping that our tomorrow will be a bit calmer and easier than today. In fact, just the thought of another homework battle can trigger me deep down into my soul. Politely put, homework time is not fun for me, and it seemingly appears to be absolute torture for my kids.
Unfortunately, our kids are not immune to the “COVID blues” as my 8-year-old likes to refer to it as. They feel our pain and pressure and carry their own. There’s a reason my kids, and perhaps yours too, despise homework. It’s because they have nothing left to give after a day of pretending that the life we live since the pandemic is normal. A lot has happened over a year, and despite not having any answers, we expect our children to simply follow our instructions, because as parents we know best. That’s a lot for them to hold onto.
Imagine the angst, fear, anger, and loss of control they must be feeling. Naturally, this supports the notion that studies have already confirmed; anxiety in children is on the rise.
So, what have we established? Well, for one, it’s hard being a kid. It’s also hard being a parent. It’s simply hard to exist these days with life’s pressures mounting.
And because life feels like an active land-mine, it’s quite easy to get sucked into the dread, gloom, and messy worry.
Let’s not head for the black hole just yet, though.
There are ways that we can make life a bit more manageable.
Let’s start by understanding.
Did you know that when your child asks you to play with them, it’s not always out of boredom? It’s oftentimes a call for connection and closeness because they are feeling out of sorts, or anxious. Did you also know that making uninterrupted time for your child can make the world of difference for you and them?
And, the best part is that you don’t need to carve out hours of your day playing with your child. Even 15- to 20-minutes of game playing, or snuggling is enough to fill their buckets. Bonus points if you can make it uninterrupted. By meeting their emotional needs, this decreases their pull for attention on you as well.
Here are three other tips to help your child manage worries
1. Label or Name It
By acknowledging and externalizing their worry, your child will realize that it is not “them” that is the problem but “Worry Fred” instead. Get creative with names. Then, have them draw a picture of the worry and then another picture with them conquering it.
2. Set Limits
Reassurance seeking behaviour is another tell-tale sign of anxiety. When your child asks something multiple times, simply reply, “asked and answered Mimi (my daughter’s nickname), what was my answer to that? Ok great, you know the answer then so no need to keep asking no matter what your brain tells you.”
By putting your child back in control of the response, you rewire their brain to feel confident in themselves rather than feeling the need to rely on others for confirmation.
3. Get Active
Whether we are concerned about possible anxiety or depression, behavioral activation (getting up and moving) is key. Go for a walk and play eye spy, head to the park, play a sport, dance to an upbeat song (I personally love Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off).
Fun fact: Getting the body moving and can change a person’s mood in as little as 5 minutes.
While this year has taken the best out of us, let it also serve as a reminder that we have made it this far. We might feel like a broken mess a lot of the time, and that’s okay. We might want to give up, and that thought is okay too. It’s also acceptable to not be the best version of yourself these days.
Storms can feel loud and scary, but they don’t necessarily cause permanent damage.
It’s with rain that flowers can bloom.
And let’s not forget, you need the rain to have that beautiful rainbow.