Children agitated during the lockdown? Here’s how to help them calm down
The pandemic and resultant lockdown is a confusing time for children to grasp. Their life has completely changed. No school, no friends, no outdoor playing – they are locked indoors. In such a situation, it is only natural for them to feel anxious and agitated. As a parent, what can you do to help them soothe and realx? Monica Sharma, Children’s Counselor and Therapist shares a few tips.
Be attentive to their emotions
It is through the words of the adult that children gradually build their inner world vocabulary as they discover new sensations and new words. As an adult, of course, we participate greatly in the construction of this inner world, this inner voice.
It is therefore important for us to help them identify their emotions, to be careful not to blame our children for their reactions or to stick labels to them that help build a negative image of themselves.
In the same way, let us do our best to control our emotions too and avoid shouting at them, because when we do, we place ourselves on the same level of negative energy as themselves. For younger children it may be a good idea to compare emotions with weather phenomena like the sun, the cloud, the wind.
Besides, when I practice my one or two minutes of daily meditation, we start by sharing our internal weather between us using the clouds for example to define sadness or the storm to define anger. In short, we put ourselves in a situation of wanting to recover a blue sky in our mind through meditation.
Connect to the present moment via the senses
The second principle to soothe them is to take root in the present moment via the senses.
You feel the wind on your face, you feel the freshness on your skin. Have you noticed how good this soap smells? Did you see how soft this ground is? Did you hear this bird?
The idea is to anchor yourself in the present moment by teaching our child to be attentive to its 5 senses.
To provoke this awareness, it is enough to ask questions. What do you feel, what do you hear? What does it feel like when you touch this object? And it is at this moment that we will transmit to him the adjectives which allow to enrich the vocabulary of course but also the awareness of the present moment.
Besides meditation, there are small breathing exercises that you can do like directing a ping pong ball or a small cotton ball, pretending that their fingers are the candles of a cake and blowing them out. And understand by doing this that you are forced to breathe in and out.
And we can also suggest to the child to lie down and put a small object on its stomach so that they become aware of their abdominal breathing which occurs at a regular rate, even without being aware of it.
The idea is to show your child how grateful you are for having a good time in your day and to focus on what went well rather than what was difficult, on what was missed, or on what scared us. This allows us to have a more positive state of mind, a calmer, more joyful outlook and to be more appeased for the rest of the day or night.
It is difficult to be angry and to feel gratitude at the same time, so it is better to invite your child and show your child how you as an adult make the choice to feel gratitude for the good times of the day. We can share moments of gratitude at dinner, at bedtime and we can discuss one or more moments that we enjoyed in our day.
It is by showing our children how we feel gratitude that our children will develop this capacity too.
Let them be
Children are instinctively more attentive (which is why it can take them so long to get from point A to point B). As much as possible, allow them to explore at their own pace. Create free space in your schedule for free time to investigate and be aware naturally.
Practice belly breathing. Place one hand on the chest and one on the stomach. When inhaling, fill the belly like a balloon and, while exhaling, let the balloon deflate. It often seems counterintuitive at first, because most of us breathe shallowly in the chest most of the time. Breathing the belly automatically activates the relaxation response in the body.
Sometimes our child says that it is not fair, or that they are not happy, and that they don’t like what they are experiencing, and indeed we can confirm their emotions and tell them that you will help them live through this and support in every way. Tell them that you are in this together, and by having a positive outlook, we can all sail through this.