I have been really struggling with a lot of fear and anxiety over the CoronaVirus Pandemic. Trying to function in the midst of so much uncertainty and lack of control is really hard for me.
I have been wondering what to do with all of this pent-up concern and have decided that one good option is to funnel some of the angst into teaching my kids how to manage being afraid and uncertain through modeling coping skills.
Modeling Coping Skills to Kids When You Feel Afraid
One of the best ways to teach our kids anything is by modeling the behavior that we want them to learn. At times, modeling behavior can feel hard because we aren’t in the middle of the big emotions that they may experience.
These days, I feel like I am definitely in the middle of the big emotions and can definitely do a better job of modeling calming skills, talking about my feelings, and asking for help when I need it.
So, here is my plan, and I am sharing in hopes that maybe you want to join me in this endeavor in your own homes…
What Coping Skills Work to Calm Fear and Uncertainty
First of all, it is important to determine which skills I want to intentionally be modeling. For me, I want to pick a skill or two that will work to calm my mental state. I also want to model good ways to ask for help. And finally, I want to model good communication skills in expressing emotions (specifically fear.)
Coping Skills for Calming Down a Worried Mind
The good news is that there are many options that work really well for calming down a worried mind. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Deep breathing
- Guided meditation (YouTube has some great ones)
- Going for a Walk
- EFT Tapping (Click here to learn about this technique if you are not familiar, and here is a video specifically tapping about the current Coronavirus/Covid-19)
- Listening to Soothing Music
- Physical Exercise
- Engaging in your favorite activity/hobby (for me, painting, for my boys, playing Legos)
- Using a Calm Down Kit (here is an article on creating one for your home)
- Yoga Poses (Especially any pose that puts your head below your heart – like downward dog.)
I hope to model many of these to my kids over the coming weeks, but for this plan, I want to pick 2 options that we actively participate in together every day.
I think consistency will be very important in helping me stay on track and continue to focus on modeling/teaching coping skills vs. falling into the rabbit holes of binge-watching news or scrolling my social feeds for information.
Personally, I have chosen physical exercise and EFT. Those are the two skills that are currently helping me the most and they are skills that I haven’t done much modeling of before.
Modeling Asking for Help
This one feels a little harder. And honestly, I am not sure if it is hard because I have such a difficult time with this skill personally, or if it is really hard to model. (Okay, it’s probably feeling hard because it is just a hard skill for me personally!)
To model this, I want to find ways to ask them for help, and ways to ask my husband for help. (This seems easiest given that we may not be going out and seeing our friends much over the coming weeks.)
To model asking them for help, I plan on having a family meeting. I want to make sure that we all talk about what is going on in our world, and how we plan to structure our home and family life as we spend more time at home. (Here’s an article I wrote on How to Have a Family Meeting if you need help figuring that out.)
In our family meeting, I plan on letting my boys know about a specific fear I am having. Namely, that I am worried that I won’t have enough quiet/alone time to decompress – this is something that I know is very important to my mental well-being.
In order to model asking for help, it is important to get specific about what you are asking for. So, I plan on asking for a quiet hour every day where we spend time in our own spaces. I know that I will need that time and they need to know that it will help me.
Modeling Expressing Emotions in Positive Ways
To be honest, my fear has been coming out as anger way too much over the past few weeks. That hasn’t been helpful to anyone. I know that it may continue to happen and that there is a lot of room for grace in the midst of such scary times. But…
I would like to intentionally model expressing my fear in more appropriate ways. Here are a couple of guidelines that help define how to express emotions in a healthy way
- Expressing my emotions shouldn’t harm another person (in the sense that I need to own the emotion as my experience vs. the emotion being their fault – either because they “caused it”, or they haven’t “prevented it”.)
- Expressing emotions will feel vulnerable and I need to own and accept that (If this is a new concept for you or one that intrigues you, spend some time listening to The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown while you hang out at home – it is a great talk!)
I am also reminding myself right now, that I will have to apologize often. I will have to ask for help in being vulnerable at such a scary time. And that is okay. Modeling self-love and grace is just as important as modeling expressing fear.
One tool that I have been using with my kids intentionally (and to help me with teaching and modeling) is the Managing Emotions Bundle. The workbooks have been really helpful tools to use during this hard time.
How Will You Help Your Child Through this Crisis
This plan is one that I am optimistic about. I am hopeful that it will help ease some of my fears and also help my children both learn some new emotional skills, as well as help ease some of the fears that they may be feeling.
What about you? What is your plan to handle your emotions and get yourself and your kids through these scary times? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Feel free to enter them in the comments or email me.
Sending You Love and Light,