Creating calm for children in uncertain times

Reposted from Thrive Counseling Center and Senior Therapists Cicely Johnson, Kristen Keleher, and Angie Kauffmann 

As the world spins in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our daily lives have altered in previously unimaginable ways. Cancelled events and flights, remote learning in schools, and closed businesses are now the norm. If we’re feeling anxious, it’s likely our children are, too. How can we minimize their anxiety amid such uncertainty?  

At Thrive Counseling Center, we’ve assembled a list of practical tips to help you and your children remain calm and comfortable in your home. By adopting a realistic but healthy response to uncertainty, and providing an outlet for stress, you can help build coping skills in your children that endure well beyond the current challenge.

  • Always actively listen to any concerns your children express. Acknowledgment and empathy reassure kids that they have been heard and that their feelings matter.
  • Maintain routines as much as possible, especially for young children. Consistent meal times, sleep schedules, and other regular activities communicate a sense of normalcy for children.
  • Strive to remain calm and rational yourself.Kids watch adults for cues for how they should behave and what they should feel. If you can manage your stress by taking deep breaths, walking outside, or practicing meditation, for example, you’ll be better able to project a calm, practical attitude that will reassure your children.
  • Actively promote basic health hygiene in a fun way! Try making hand washing fun by turning it into a game. Sing happy birthday or the ABCs while scrubbing away. These engaging practices not only help limit the spread of disease, but they help give us a sense of control over a chaotic situation.
  • Laugh, play, and enjoy outdoor activities as much as possible. Humans often seek comfort by connecting with others. Make your time together fun and meaningful. After a good meal, bring out a board game or watch a favorite movie. Get outside—a simple walk can be remarkably uplifting.

We hope these ideas prove useful to you and your family during the coming days and weeks. Fortunately, to date children who have been exposed to the virus have experienced only mild symptoms. If you or a family member are symptomatic or you believe you have been directly exposed to COVID-19, however, follow the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines for seeking medical assistance or call the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Coronavirus Hotline at 1.800.889.3931.

Thrive is offering phone-based counseling and medication management to address our community’s needs during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Our Crisis Intervention Services are still available by dialing 708.383.7500. Our Front Desk team is ready to assist you Monday-Friday, 9am to 2pm, with requests for referrals or new services and to reschedule or cancel an appointment.