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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.

Childhood adversity and adult health

Several years ago, I came upon a talk online about childhood traumas and how they can affect our adult physical and mental health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study in 1998 that included 17,000 participants, investigating the degree to which they were exposed to physical, emotional and sexual abuse or neglect before the age of eighteen and the impact it had on later-life health and wellbeing. The questionnaire consisted of ten questions categorized into abuse, neglect and household challenges. The results of the study show that nearly two thirds of the population were exposed to at least one adverse childhood event, or ACE. Those who were exposed to four or more ACE’s, had three times the risk of heart disease and lung cancer, and a twenty-year reduction in life expectancy (CDC, 2019). That’s an incredible impact that I just couldn’t ignore!

 The results tell us that cumulative adversity also has an impact on our well-being. The more ACE’s one is exposed to, the greater the health risk. It is interesting to note that the study factored out smoking, over eating and high-risk behaviour, which only accounted for approximately half of the risk.

After researching the impact of ACE’s, I discovered that roughly 2/3 of our population is exposed to an ACE or some form of trauma and we know that early interventions and screening are key to preventing some of these later-life health declines. By providing someone with a high ACE score proper tools and coping strategies, we can start to see reversal of some of these effects, and help them stop the cycle and prevent them from affecting their next generations.

I am very passionate about working with people from all backgrounds and varying degrees of exposure to trauma, as I know how deeply childhood adversity can affect them. By offering coping strategies and de-escalation tools, we can start working on breaking the cycle of trauma and its harmful effect.