Structure your day.
Aim to continue routines with our children.
Children are more tolerant to stress when it is introduced in predictable ways, such as daily chores, bedtime routines, etc.
When stress is unpredictable, extreme, and prolonged, children become more vulnerable, rather than resilient.
Have family meals.
Mealtime is a great way to preserve structure and routine while checking in with our children.
If there are behavioral issues or family problems to discuss, ensure that our children feel safe and heard first.
Navigating our way through this pandemic, many of us are experiencing a state of fear, and children are no exception.
Emotions are very contagious, and children often sense when others are anxious or upset.
In a state of fear, children rely more heavily on primitive parts of the brains. We should avoid media that is violent, which can further activate the stress response system.
Technology can be an excellent tool to build connection with others while physically distant, but relying on media too heavily can replace time spent developing empathy, learning to ease another’s stress, and connecting emotionally.
Be creative and get bodies moving while practicing social distancing.
As previously mentioned, when children are in a fearful state, they are in a heightened state of arousal, relying on lower-functioning brain regions.
The only way to move from these super-high anxiety states, to calmer more cognitive states, is rhythm. Patterned, repetitive rhythmic activity: walking, running, dancing, singing, repetitive meditative breathing – you use brain stem-related somatosensory networks which make your brain accessible to relational (limbic brain) reward and cortical thinking.
Connecting with others is one of our greatest tools.
The most powerful buffer in times of stress and distress is our social connectedness; so let’s all remember to stay physically distant but emotionally close.
Handling such unprecedented circumstances is nearly impossible on our own. It is ok to reach out, seek help, and accept assistance.
Taking care of our own needs is vital when it comes to meeting the needs of our children. An unregulated child cannot be regulated by an unregulated parent.
Many people who have experienced adversity in the past, are in a state of sensitization and vulnerability.
They may have experienced poverty, racism, violence, marginalization, etc., increasing their risk for behaviors such as ‘comfort’ eating, emotional isolation, sleep disruptions, and so on.
We can reach out to these individuals who are already prone to an overactive stress response.