Dr. Alisa Van Langeveld, PhD of “10 Minutes Together” was in studio to talk tips on helping kids cope with pandemic anxiety. A child development and parent expert; an adjunct professor in Family Studies at the University of Utah, and mom of four, she teaches parenting skills online at “10 Minutes Together” where she focuses on the power of one-on-one connection.
Raising kids in a pandemic is hard, and kids are struggling. Parents can take purposeful action to help their child deal with pandemic anxiety. Alisa says we’ve come a long way from March 2020 when we went into a global lockdown for what we thought was a short time. Now, nearly two years later, we are still in pandemic times and we are currently in a very intense pandemic moment with the Omicron variant.
Kids are struggling academically, socially and emotionally. Parents and teachers see it. Pandemic anxiety is different. It’s a global challenge, but the struggle is not the same for every person. There are different experiences with illness, quarantine, remote learning, missed events, life transitions, or loss of a loved one.
Traditional efforts to help when children struggle, experience stress or grief is to identify it and come to terms with it. Seek closure. This assumes there is an end point to their grief and we need to find our way there. However, there is no closure in this pandemic. It’s an unclear loss with no resolution.
Avoid falling back on, “kids are resilient”. This is an excuse for inaction. Not knowing what to do is not an excuse to do nothing. Kids are adaptable, and they can be resilient with support.
What Can Parents Do?
You are their safe place. You set the tone. They will read their emotional temperature from you. If you complain, they will complain. Be aware of your own anxiety and don’t spill that on to your kids. Make space for your stress. Be deliberate in what you share and what you withhold.
Make time for one-on-one connection. This is critical time to remind your child that they are safe and to validate their feelings. “I see you. I hear you and what you say matters.”
Emotion coaching is key – Help child cope with ambivalence.
1. Validation – I see you. I hear you and what you say matters. Everyday.
2. Help child become comfortable with ambivalent feelings.
3. Acknowledge, label, and validate the emotions.
4. Accept all emotion without trying to change it.
5. isten, validate, support (remember nonverbal messaging)
1. Tell the story from THEIR perspective. Repeat it back to them.
2. Use your phone. Scroll through pictures and tell the story.
3. Create a regular check-in
4. Offer additional help “Sometimes it helps to talk to someone else about what we’re feeling. Would you like to talk to a therapist about this?”
Growing up in a pandemic is hard. We can help our kids manage their anxiety by being a safe place for them and coaching them through their emotions.
Join Alis’as FREE 5-Day Workshop “Helping Kids Cope with Pandemic Anxiety” on Instagram!