This COVID – 19 pandemic can be challenging in lots of different ways. Many families and young people have been in touch with me for advice. So, I just wanted to share some tips to try to help families reduce anxiety at home.
We all worry – we like clarity and predictability but this lockdown period has brought lots and lots of changes very quickly. Anxiety can make us feel fearful and want to withdraw but it can also make us feel unsure, frustrated, angry, exhausted. Whether we are young or old, it is not surprising that lots of different feelings and behaviours have been showing up with all the different members of our family.
My first tip is to talk. We are a team all looking after each other. It is okay to have worries and questions. We do not always know the answers but it is important for us all to talk about our feelings. Model sharing your emotions so that children feel able to share their worries too. It is important to listen to your children’s concerns. A good way to do this is to allocate a worry time. For older children and adults, you could write down your worries. This helps us to feel more in control and empties our heads so that we can sleep well. For younger children, you can make a worry box – with your help they can write down their worries and post them away. Remember – always be honest, but make sure your explanations are age appropriate.
For all of us, keeping a routine is really helpful. Sleeping well and eating healthily helps us to feel good and gives us more energy to do things. Have a plan for each day – make sure you keep a good balance. You will need to sit with little ones and set a range of activities – you can make a colourful plan for them too. Be really clear and explain to them exactly what you expect them to do. For children, young adults and adults, break tasks into manageable chunks. Set 3 achievable targets each day – and, don’t try to be perfect! We need to relax our usual standards. Family rules and clear boundaries are still important but we need to be flexible. For example, older children may be getting up a little later or some may have more screen time during the day. We can be clear with children that this is a change for now and that the usual family rules about phones and iPads will be reinstated.
And where things get hard, try to keep motivated by being kind to yourselves and each other. Be generous with praise and encouragement. For little ones use reward charts so that you make sure to catch all their positive behaviours. Make time for relaxation – lie on a picnic mat in the garden with your children and watch the clouds. Don’t forget self care – read a book, do something creative, listen to music, have a bubble bath! Obviously, keep up to date with the news, follow the government guidelines but limit how often you are tuning in so that you can stay focussed and do your best to keep a good balance of normal activities!
I hope something from these tips has been helpful. Thanks to the lovely Josie Staveley Taylor for my illustrations, I hope they serve as useful reminders to you all!