While the virus still affects our daily lives and our futures are uncertain, we can still recognize that there is a lot of work to be done with ourselves and our children around the anxieties that the pandemic has already created and will continue to create. We hear all the time that children are resilient (and it’s true!) but depending on the stressors of the situation, they (and we) can use a little help in bouncing back.
The first thing to consider is whether this crisis has been traumatic or simply anxiety provoking for us and our children. Trauma is generally caused by violence or a physical threat, though it can also be caused by long-term neglect, abuse, or discrimination. For people who have lost a loved one or who have been confined in abusive situations because of the pandemic, it is quite likely they are experiencing trauma. For those who have lost their regular routines, who go to sleep and wake up with uncertainty of what tomorrow will bring, it is likely that they are experiencing anxiety.
People who are traumatized often exhibit symptoms of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and those with PTSD must be helped professionally by those trained to deal with trauma. Therapies such as a cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) have been proven to relieve the symptoms of those with PTSD. But what about those who are struggling with anxiety now that the world is turned upside down? How can we help our children live in this new world?
Acknowledge the new normal. We may expect ourselves and our children to go back to acting exactly as they did before Covid. That is an unfair expectation. Instead, we need to acknowledge that a lot has changed and therefore adjust our expectations.
Prioritize. There are so many things that we need to maintain – work, household, relationships, our bodies. Our children have their list too – schoolwork, friends, and healthy activity. Being resilient means moving forward despite setbacks. Therefore, set your priorities and let the other stuff go, perhaps now is not the time to make sure that your child is still practicing piano daily.
Talk to each other. So many people are suffering in the same way right now. Talk to each other, listen to what they have to say. Empathize with what your children are going through. Ultimately, you will all be stronger as a result.