Given the unique circumstances we are all facing Melbourne Grammar School Psychologists suggest the following tips to support your children throughout these unsettling times.
Explain the current situation as best you can in age appropriate language. Ask them what they already know about the situation so you can clarify any misunderstanding and encourage questions. Remind them that you’re available to listen to their concerns. Adolescents often perceive themselves as alone in feeling the way they do, thereby heightening their distress.
Reassure them they’re safe and their feelings and concerns are valid and typical which will help them feel calmer. Try to help them articulate what is causing the worry, then work with them to rationalise these concerns. It’s natural to feel worried in situations such as these
Let them know people are working to help others during this time of uncertainty. Share stories in an appropriate way about health workers, scientists and others who are working to keep the community safe.
Help them to develop an awareness that what we focus on will influence how we feel. If your children continue to focus on worries and ‘worst-case scenarios’, then anxiety and fear will follow. Acknowledge that our world has in some ways come to a halt, however try to redirect their thoughts to things that continue (e.g, our ability to connect with one another; our capacity to talk to friends).
Be proactive around switching off media when younger children are around; and instead discussing the news in a child-friendly manner. Limit your children’s exposure to media and observe for signs of distress which may present in varying ways such as withdrawal, anger, aggression, sleeplessness restlessness etc.
You’ll be able to help your children better if you’re coping. Children will inevitably pick up on our own reactions. It helps them to know your ‘re calm and in control. If you’re feeling anxious or upset, take time for yourself and reach out to other family, friends and trusted people in our community.