The lockdown has been lifted in most of countries. While we are all getting back to our old routine, we all know that nothing is the same. It is frightening and worrying for all of us, especially children. It is important to address the stress and anxiety that your child may have towards this new normal. Your child may have anxiety of going back to school after a gap of few months, going to the shopping mall, meeting friends, relatives, playing in the park, etc. Parents too may have concerns about how to prepare their children along with getting them accustomed to using sanitisers, masks, and maintaining social distancing when they step outside their homes. Jessica Gandhi, a Life Coach, Hynotherapist and Neuro- Linguistic Programming coach discusses how to prepare and train your child for the new emerging world.
1.Psychological and emotional training
Children should be taught to observe and accept their emotions. Encouraging them to be expressive about how they are feeling reduces their concerns and anxiety. Parents should make them understand that anxiety is one of the many emotions we feel and it is normal to feel so in the present circumstances. They should be taught to not judge themselves for feeling anxious and instead to honour their feelings.
2.Seek professional help if needed
If your child’s anxiety seems overwhelming, is escalating and they have issues with eating food, sleeping or interacting in ways considered normal, seek help. Online counselling is growing tremendously and parents can avail of such services for their children. If you want to get in touch with one of our counsellors, CLICK HERE
3.Training your children for a life post the lockdown
a) Create a routine: The best way to help children cope with change is to implement a structure. Maintaining a daily routine helps us anticipate what is coming next and makes us feel more safe and in control. Work on creating a daily schedule that encourages time for schooling, extra curricular activities, healthy eating habits, regular sleep routine and family time. Be understanding of the fact that it will take time for children to adjust to this new way of living and sometimes they may not be able to stick to a schedule.
b) Teach them to focus on what is under their control: Focusing on daily tasks at hand can help children think more logically and rationally. A lot of anxiety is rooted in procrastination and thinking worst case scenarios. This can lead to fear and negativity. Remind your child of the practical steps such as washing hands frequently and social distancing.
4.Daily practices to deal with anxiety
a) Mindfulness: Anxiety is triggered by either thinking about the future or thinking about the past. We are much less likely to be anxious if we are focused on the present moment. For example, just focusing on our sensory impulses, even for a minute, on what we are feeling, touching, tasting and seeing, helps us to be grounded in the present moment.
b) Practice breathing: Diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing is the most helpful breathing technique to overcome anxiety. Children can be taught to practice this 2-3 times a day for 5-10 mins to help them alleviate stress. Taking a pause before they react enables them to choose how they want to react in a difficult situation.
c) Neuro Linguistic Programming: It is believed to have worked on several levels, including beliefs, identity, purpose, behaviour, and environment. This helps children to improve and change negative values, improves self-esteem, confidence and self-motivation. Children who are anxious can become confident and are able to express their thoughts and feelings. NLP therapy helps children by providing not only emotional support, but the ability to understand why they feel a certain way and resolve conflicts. With the help of visual aids, use of language and various neural pathways used in NLP therapy, new neural pathways can be formed to build confidence in children who suffer from anxiety disorders.
5. Let them be mindful participants
a) Gratitude: Being grateful for everything and everyone we have is a powerful method to reduce stress. It also makes us feel close to others. It can be as simple as saying a heartfelt thank you or writing a letter to someone. It creates a strong sense of connection with the world. When we appreciate others, more than making someone else happy, we bring happiness and positivity to ourselves.
b) Positive thinking: Replacing negative thoughts with more positive ones is one of the best methods to keep stress at bay. You can’t tell your children to quit being anxious, however by inquiring what they are thinking and feeling will help the child to think things through and process their emotions well. This will help them to distinguish anxiety related to present situation and anxiety created due to procrastination. Focus on the positives and encourage positive conversations and interactions.
c) Care for others: There are ways to connect with others even while maintaining social distancing. Encourage children to assist elderly couples or people living in and around you by offering to pick groceries for them. Encourage them to video call their grandparents and elderly members of the family and spend time with them. This will ensure that they care not just for themselves but also for others.
d)Inculcate feminine qualities like love, warmth, care etc. in male and female children: In the new world order, it is predicted that the feminine energies will rise and the Yin and Yang energies will balance itself. It’s healthy to prepare our children for a new world order and encourage their divine masculine and divine feminine qualities to bloom. Developmental research shows that by the age of three, kids begin to self-identify as a boy or a girl and start labeling toys as being most appropriate for males or females. Boy-girl categorization structures are among the first to develop in children, and by the age of five, kids are using those categories to develop their own notions about gender. So teaching them feminine qualities at an early age will help them be more compassionate.
6) Observe your child’s behaviour: Observe and introspect what your child’s behaviour is trying to tell you, which will give you clues to what he/ she really needs. For example, if your teenage child is hanging around in the kitchen and not talking much, she might just want to be close to you. You can give her a hug or let her help with cooking, without needing to talk.
7) Pamper and give attention to your child: Be available when your child needs support, care or help, whether it’s picking up your toddler when he falls, or picking up your teenage child when he calls you after a party. This helps them learn to trust that you will be there when they need you. Get to know your child and value them for their individuality. If your girl child loves football, cheer her on or ask about her favourite players. This shows respect for the child’s feelings and opinion, and also makes the child know that you can be trusted. When children are younger, parents need to show affection through physical demonstration such as hugging, cuddling and holding them. For a toddler, holding your child’s hands while they walk is a good way to show affection. It has an added benefit of giving them a feeling of security. Having meaningful conversations with your child is another way to show love and develop trust. As children get older, parents can show affection in non-physical ways, such as paying attention to children, remembering and celebrating important moments in their lives, expressing their love and kissing them good night before going to bed.
8. Nurture your child’s mental health
Here are a few tips for parents:
- Listen with rapt attention before offering advice.
- Surround them with emotionally healthy and mature adults.
- Be patient with children when they have doubts and questions.
- Teach children how to be keep themselves safe.
- Spend quality time together
- Inculcate forgiveness.
- Be present for them and spend time with them.
- Respond calmly when they are agitated.
- View their behaviour as a window to their needs and feelings.
- Share your own feelings and validate theirs.
- Practice relaxation exercises together.
- Create healthy boundaries and respect it.