As the state and counties start “opening up,” how are you feeling?
All of the above?
If you are feeling intense (or conflicting) emotions right now, you can BET your children are too.
It is important to acknowledge emotions you and your children are experiencing. Many children may have “worries” that fall into the “developmentally appropriate” category. For example, when a child is concerned about “monsters” after watching a spooky cartoon. So for kids who are experiencing “typical” worries, the worries tend to dissipate within a short period time after the stimulus (a.k.a. reminder) is removed; no more spooky cartoons, no more worries about monster.
But, some children’s worries stick around well after the reminder has been removed. Then some worries can even morph into something else—something more serious. This is especially true when the child perceives their safety or security to be at risk. This would be like when your kiddo is suddenly afraid of ALL insects after a painful bee sting. So much so they may even refuse to go outside. Right now, there are numerous things happening in our world. All of which could cause ANY person to feel scared and unsafe—let alone a child. So, what do you do?
How to Help Your Child
Feeling safe and secure (aka, protected) can REALLY help someone get back to an emotionally regulated state and help keep them there. For example, try extra snuggles or family activities like cooking and family game nights. These can strengthen connection and build emotional security! However, for some children and teens that won’t be enough.
Here is a fun family activity to get the discussion flowing:
As a family, create a “Shield of Protection.” Have your child draw a shield on a piece of paper (consult google, if needed).
Then parents will ask questions like:
“What is a shield used for? (protection)
Why would someone need protection? (scared, don’t want to get hurt)
What are some things you are scared of/worried about/afraid of?
What would help you feel protected/safe?
Parents, remember to share your own worries and needs. This helps model how to have a conversation about these things with your child. Then, you (preferably your child) will draw what makes you feel safe and protected on your shield (coloring would be great too!). Finally, when you are done, put the shield in a place where if you need a reminder, it’s there!
If your child’s worries have lingered or gotten worse, reach out for specialized support! CLICK HERE to fill out an inquiry form!
This blog post was written by Marie Burgess, LGPC. She is experienced in helping children and teens understand their worries and how to cope with them.