How Family Can Help Navigate Uncertainty Together
The global pandemic has impacted everyone; some a bit more than others. Adjusting to the “new normal” has meant making major changes to daily routine for many people. For many families, this could mean financial hardships, juggling child care and education, and making the transition to work from home. Not only is there an impact on family dynamics, but also on the physical and mental health of parents. As the school year continues, many still fear the risks of what these uncertain times could potentially bring. Children and teens may have a particularly hard time making sense of what’s happening given their inherent suggestibility and vulnerability. So how can we continue to navigate through these uncertain times, on top of managing our own and our family’s well-being?
Although it may seem daunting, having conversations with your children and addressing their questions. With such a large influx of information being spread around, having open conversations can help clear up confusion and bring family members together. It is ok to explain that people are getting sick, but reminding kids that following guidelines of washing hands, wearing masks, and encouraging proper hygiene can help them feel a sense of control in an uncontrollable situation. Perhaps getting a cool new mask to wear to school can help encourage kids to follow these guidelines.
We’re all feeling a whole range of emotions right now, including stress, anxiety, and even a lot of confusion. Creating an environment where your child can ask questions in a non-judgmental and empathetic manner. Show that you are interested in hearing their thoughts and feelings. Addressing your child’s feelings with simple statements, such as “I see you’re feeling… I hear you what you are saying…” can provide validation in what your child is feeling. Validation shows you understand what your child is feeling and sets up a place where they can process their emotions. Modeling a sense of calmness and normalcy can help provide a sense of comfort in a time of uncertainty.
Taking a Minute for Yourself
Your own behavior can be the most impactful form of communication with your children. Parents who reported more difficulties in dealing with quarantine show more stress. This can then impact the children’s problems and their emotions. Finding ways to calm yourself can send a message to your children that there is no need to worry or panic. Checking in with yourself is an important component of this. Monitoring your own feelings and reactions by taking a few minutes of the day to do a self check in can do wonders in keeping a level head. Utilizing mindful breathing pauses throughout the day can help you model a sense of calm control for your child and family.
We are all in this together
It is important to remind yourself and your family that we are all in this together. Learning to be okay with the fact that we don’t know what the future holds can be difficult, but taking these baby steps to promote open conversations and healthy behaviors in order to adapt and move forward in these crazy times. Preparing for what is to come is difficult with so much that is out of our control, but taking the extra steps to ensure compassion, safety, and understanding will make all the difference as we continue to navigate this uncertainty.