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How do we help kids cope with COVID-19 and the new normal that it brings?
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What we need to do is actually hear what their [kids] concerns are. We as adults have a lot of concerns about COVID like so many, but what concerns kids is different than what we think that concerns kids. we need to be listening to them and hearing what their concerns are.
For example, when kids were out of school suddenly last march, we had as adults were very concerned about COVID itself and all the sorts of things, but kids were concerned about recess, end of the year celebrations.
You must think about what are the things that they are worried about, what are the things that they are thinking about and ask those questions, open the dialogue, understand what they are feeling.
Are they feeling sad? Are they feeling scared? Are they feeling happy? Cause they don't have to go to school anymore, which is legit and real.
Recognizing and honoring what their feelings are and being able to tackle that.
The thing with COVID-19, we are seeing a lot of regressive behaviors.
First, we have to give grace. This way is not typical and normal and is unexpected. We are not meant to live like this. We're meant to collaborate. We're meant to communicate. We're meant to be together. So, finding ways that you can make sure that you're talking about feelings as much as possible and drawing about feelings as much as possible. Have the child scribbling out their feelings or squeeze Play-Doh really hard, pop bubble wrap, jump up and down on a trampoline, or go to the park. Get their feelings out in safe and healthy ways. This is helpful to give them the opportunity to play as well, because play is a natural stress reliever.
Especially for the little ones, having them play in the sand or build with Legos, they will show you and talk with you about the feelings they are having. They'll tell you what's going on in their minds with their drawings, with how they're playing.
A lot of kid’s imaginative play and pretend play and they might have masks on their dolls and that's a way that they're working through it. And that is typical, expected. Like we are, everybody's wearing masks now. And to work through that, now the dolls and the Teddy bears were wearing masks.
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Janine Halloran, is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with over 17 years of experience working with children, teens and their families. She is the founder and CEO of Coping Skills for Kids, where she creates and curates tools & resources to help adults teach kids healthy ways to deal with stress, anxiety and anger. She is the author of the Coping Skills for Kids Workbook: Over 75 Coping Strategies to Help Kids Deal with Stress, Anxiety and Anger (PESI, 2018) and Social Skills for Kids: Over 75 Fun Games & Activities for Building Better Relationships, Problem Solving & Improving Communication (PESI, 2018). She is an NBC Parent Toolkit Expert and has written articles featured on their blog. In addition, she has written for several other publications, including Hey Sigmund, Confident Families Confident Kids and Bay State Parent Magazine. She’s worked in a variety of settings, including schools, residential programs and outpatient mental health facilities. She is in private practice and offers consultation.
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