Supporting The Children
Dealing With Loss of Normalcy
Many of us spent Easter or Passover by talking to our love ones over the Internet. While it was the smartest thing to do, it was not the same as hugging and sharing a meal together. And while the distance was hard on all of us it is especially hard on children. Children and teens are suffering the loss of normalcy. They are not going to school, having play dates, attending prom, having end of school events, graduation ceremonies or playing outside. The new normal is social distancing, wearing mask, e-learning and staying in your house. This loss of normalcy is especially hard on children so how can we help.
Maintain at least one regular scheduled activity. It is especially important for children since a schedule gives them a sense of security. Without a sense of security, children’s feelings of loss can escalate. The result can be loss in sleep or nightmares or easy to anger.
Exercise and healthy eating can be fun. Exercise can be anything from walking a dog, a bicycle ride with your family, yoga, running around the house, a contest to see how many sit-ups can be done or just walking in your house. Add an additional component to exercise such as a contest to see who can get the most steps in a day or just an hour.
Children tend to eat more healthy if they are involved in the purchasing of the food. While taking a child to the grocery store is not the right choice, they can help you make the list or help you shop on line for groceries. Involvement in the cooking process can not only pass the time but could be a way to get them to try new foods. Occasionally, make a five course meal or do a menu with choices of easy/quick foods or do a hot dog/potato bar with choice of toppings. It does not need to be expensive, just fun.
Listen to their fears and concerns. Spending time listening to what they say and what they do not say is important. If a child does not talk about missing their friends then ask them when they last talked to them or if they want to call, text or email someone. A sign of depression is cutting yourself off from friends. Know your child and the circumstances. Some children are not as good with email, zoom, texting and may not want to use those methods. Another idea is mailing a card or writing a chalk message on a sidewalk at a friends house. If leaving the apartment building is not safe, what about keeping a journal about what they did during this crisis. The journal should be in their own words or in pictures. Remember, this is not school work and never needs to be shared. They could reach out to friends to see what they are doing. Celebrate birthdays or other events in creative ways. Holiday celebrations can be signs on the sidewalk, cars driving by and honking , zoom get together, and signs in windows. In my neighborhood, someone painted rocks and hid them so others could have a treasure hunt. You can ask friends to send messages via text or other social media outlets to say happy birthday.
If the child express fears then let them talk about the situation. It is healthy for them to express anger or sadness either in words or drawings. Holding feelings inside will only cause it to exploded in a negative manner. If your child is excessively fighting with siblings (a certain amount of fighting is normal) it can be a sign that they need to talk about the anger they feel about this situation. Encourage them to share with you how they feel. If they do not have the words then have them draw it or express it thru clay. It can be satisfying to build a tower then knock it down.
Fun is Okay! A fun activity is to go to colornames.org and name a color. Even if you name does not get picked, it can be fun to think up fun names or see what others have chosen.
Remember: We can all do better then we think we can but we can not do it alone. Use your resources, talk to friends or family for support and ideas. Grandparents can help by sending cards, gift baskets, popcorn; zoom get togethers; text messages; play games on line like game pigeon and just call to support a parent.