Family "Coping Kit"
It is expected that we will experience anxiety during times of uncertainty and stress. One way you can help your child address their anxiety is through building a simple “Coping Kit.” A “Coping Kit” includes practical strategies that empower children to manage difficult feelings productively. Depending on your child’s age and needs, their “Coping Kit” could include:
- A simple feelings wheel (see sample below) to accurately name and acknowledge emotions they may be experiencing. Remember, there are no “bad” emotions–it’s ok for them to feel whatever they feel and your job is to help them use strategies to cope.
- Calming breathing techniques and mindfulness activities to reduce stress
- Yoga or other movement and stretching activities; Relaxation techniques like guided imagery or progressive muscle relaxation
- Fun indoor physical activities and games
A private journal or sketchbook where they can express their emotions through writing or drawing
- For older children, find a social cause to learn more about together and support remotely. Or cultivate compassion by encouraging them to reach out via phone or text to potentially isolated elderly family members, neighbors, or their peers who are home unsupervised
- Practical strategies to help maintain their physical health including:
- Picking out a fidget bracelet, button, or other small wearable item (that can be disinfected daily) to redirect the urge to touch their face.
- Choosing part of a song they love that is at least 20 seconds long to sing while washing their hands
Finally, children take their emotional cues from us. Being honest about our fears is important to model but we should express our feelings appropriately. How can we find ways to regain calm, and also model and verbalize compassion for others? How can we notice when our stress level is rising to stop, breathe, and use our own coping strategies before responding to our children? Plan ahead for those big feelings and you’ll proceed with confidence that you are ready to handle the stress.
There is no way around it. This moment requires us to dig deep and take deliberate action to make sure we stay mentally healthy for our kids. Even small acts of care for ourselves are important like watching a TV show that makes you laugh, taking two minutes each day to write down something you’re grateful for, or talking honestly and privately about how you feel with a friend.
(Confident Parents, Confident Kids)