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Talking with children about Covid-19

Talking with children about Covid-19

We are in unprecedented times, with so much information being shared about the coronavirus daily. This is causing many families stress and anxiety, and some are unsure how to talk to their children about Covid-19.

Here are some times to get you started if you choose to share information with your children.

Manage your own anxiety first:  The first think I would suggest is to be aware of your own mental state before approaching this subject with your child. Do whatever you need to in order to be calm before speaking with them.

Use a calm and reassuring voice: Once you are calm yourself, ensure you are maintaining a reassuring tone of voice. This will help your child know that it is safe to voice their own concerns , thoughts and feelings about the situation with you.

Follow your child’s lead: Ensure that the information you are providing them is age appropriate. It’s best to follow their lead, and answer questions they are asking, without offering more details than what they are interested in. It may also help to find out what they already know, making sure they know the facts and not false information.

Focus on what you’re already doing: I’m sure your family is already doing many great things to keep you and your community safe. This could be washing hands frequently, maintaining social distance when going out for essential tasks, and staying home when you can. Explain to your children why this is very important and helps us all stay healthy.

Validate their feelings:  Your child may have a wide range of emotions right now, from anger to frustration, boredom or even sadness. Their entire life has been turned upside down, with daily routines changed, their favourite after school activities cancelled, and time with friends limited to virtual meetings. By modelling healthy coping yourself, you can help your child deal with their complex feelings. Share your own feelings with them, and show them what you do when you are also upset.

Be mindful of exposure to news: Try to limit exposure to what is essential in order to stay informed. It’s easy to binge watch the news and look up article after article related to the virus. However, this can have an effect on your mental health as well as your child’s. For older children, you may want to sit with them as they read or watch the news so that you can help them make sense of it and discuss with them what they’ve learned.

I know many of you are already doing a wonderful job in managing your stress at home, and as the weeks progress, you may need more supports.  Please reach out for professional supports if you need them.

Wishing you all health and safety in your homes <3

To homeschool or not…

To homeschool or not… 

Many schools across the nation have now closed indefinitely to prevent the spread of Covid-19. I’m hearing a lot of discussion around what to do with kids at home due to the school closures. There are many forwards, blogs and posts being sent with resources to help parents homeschool. There are also forwards encouraging the opposite… that you should avoid homeschooling to avoid adding stress. So what do we do?

The answer is..there’s no one size fits all. Just like parenting is different for every family, this unique situation will affect all of us in different ways. We all have different capacities to handle stress and anxiety, so recognizing your triggers and your capacity is key.

For homeschoolers

Some families thrive in structure and routine, and actually see a spike in depression and anxiety without structure. If you choose to homeschool, remember

  • Be FLEXIBLE
  • Be REALISTIC
  • Get SUPPORT

If homeschooling is your jam, don’t do it alone. There are so many resources out there to support you. And as the weeks progress you may find that you need to change your schedule, so be flexible and realistic. Also, a scheduled day doesn’t have to be worksheets and textbooks. Math can be measuring out ingredients for dinner, science can be mixing coloured water to make snow cones. There are many ways to do this.

So if you choose to homeschool, great! Do what works for you.

For those who choose not to homeschool

If the idea of a schedule is anxiety provoking for you, then just take this time to do what makes you and your kiddos happy. If that means lots of independent reading time, or screen time, or outdoor play time, or any unstructured activity, do what keeps your stress levels in check. 

Many are taking this time to just reconnect with one another and spend much needed quality time together. Learning new subjects and keeping up with curriculums is not a priority for many.

So if you choose not to homeschool, great! Do what works for you.

For everyone in between, you might be choosing to do a bit of both. Some scheduled activities , and some unstructured time.

So if you choose this option, great! Do what works for you.

Whatever your family chooses, I wish you health and mental wellness while you do it. Let me know what’s working for your family.

Mindfulness and CBT

Meditation and mindfulness have recently become quite popular, with several smartphone apps claiming to provide many benefits. Mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) helps you let go of anything that is not the present moment (both future and past), without judgement.  Mindfulness is bringing attention with intention to the here and now  and decreases rumination.

 MBCT helps you to see thoughts and feelings as simply mental happenings, and not facts. Our minds are tricky, and can have thoughts pop up without warning. These thoughts can often be anxiety causing or depressive in nature. Mindfulness is noticing those thoughts, and training our mind to let go of a thought and instead bring ourselves back to the present. This technique teaches not paying attention to the content of the thought but rather to the thought process.

Mindfulness can be used for stress reduction, chronic pain, eating disorders, relieving anxiety, depression, addictions and personality disorders. A study done a year after starting the therapy in chronically depressed individuals found that patients were twice as likely to stay free of depression if they had MBCT treatments.

If you’re interested in trying out mindfulness techniques in session, book an appointment or contact me for further details.