As an author and a teacher, these past few months have had me concerned about how all of these things are affecting our children. First, the isolation. Then the fear of illness. Then the missing out of milestones. Finally, the boredom.
Just when things started to look up, a scary wave of civil unrest broke out. Our children are hearing us, watching us and learning from us. As adults and leaders, we have to do better.
Whether or not things improve right away or further down the line, I think it is important we pay attention to the kids. They might not be obvious about it, but it does affect them and stress them out. So what can we do?
Here are some things I’ve come up with and ideas I’ve used before.
- When they see the negativity and feel that the world is a hopeless, dangerous place, follow the advice Mister Rogers shared: “Look for the helpers.” There will always be helpers. Have them share with you what they discover.
- Start a gratitude or Positivity journal. This trains our brains to look for the good and positve things in our lives. They could write down one, or two or however many items they want. It doesn’t need to be huge. Maybe it was a beautiful sunny day. Maybe they read a favorite book. Maybe they had their favorite dinner.
- Encourage them to talk about what they’re feeling. Sometimes all they need is an ear.
- Offer a variety of things to do – especially if they are still quaranteened. Is there a TV marathon they want to watch? Do they want to do a livingroom campout complete with favorite snacks? Is there a Monopoly tournament (or life, or Sorry, etc). Maybe they can help set up the new garden? The temptation might be for them to withdrawl into one thing – such as video games. Change it up a little bit. My teenager grumbled a bit with the garden help, but afterwards he told me he felt “accomplished.”
- Give them something creative to do. Do they like art? Many illustrators offer art tips. The illustrator of Angel Donor, Samantha Bell has a great selection here.
- Do something kind for someone. Does someone in the neighborhood need help with anything? Maybe they saw someone be mean or discriminate against their friend. Letting them know that being a friend to that person can go a long way.
- As always, if you are worried about their mental health or physical health, get in touch with their doctor right away for the best individualized advice for them.
What are some ideas you have to help our children get through these times? Do you have any reading suggestions for children that would help ease their stress?
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