When humans experience something they have never experienced before, such as the current Coronavirus pandemic, it often creates a mix of fear, curiosity, worry, panic, and interest, among other emotions for both adults and children.
Most people do best with predictability, stability, and routine. Recent events have thrown a wrench in both parents and children's routines and 'normal' lives.
So what can you do? We asked David "Dr. Dave" Schramm with USU Extension to give us some tips. He says, "First, parents should remember that we are all born with at least three fundamental needs for surviving and thriving in life. They include: Safety, Satisfaction, and Connection."
• Safety - It is important to reassure children they are loved and the changes that have happened in their lives are meant to keep them healthy and safe. Listen to their concerns and validate their feelings. You can teach them safe practices such as coughing into their arm, not touching their eyes, nose, or mouth, and while washing their hands they can think of three things they are grateful for. Parents can set the example for safe and healthy practices.
• Satisfaction - View this unique time as special and as an opportunity to enjoy new things rather than as a challenge or scary time. You may never have this type of experience again! Find the positive and joy in this temporary new journey.
o Make a two-week bucket list of fun things you can do during this unfamiliar time
o Share items from your childhood (or theirs) including yearbooks, scrapbooks, home movies, wedding movies/albums, favorite songs, and more
o Get creative - marshmallow towers, cardboard boxes, musical instruments, paper airplanes, cushion/blanket forts, and cake walks.
o Learn about and connect with your ancestors through stories and pictures
o Write letters, send emails, or make phone calls/FaceTime with cousins, grandparents, and other relatives
o Find a fun recipe you can make together. Let everyone help. Talk, share, listen, and laugh together as you work
o Write thank you cards or draw pictures for doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff for their hard work
o Make time to talk, watch a movie together, snuggle, set up a tent indoors, change up sleeping arrangements/rooms. Get creative and connect in meaningful ways.
During this time of wonder and worry, the greatest gift you can give your children is you. Give them your time and attention. Do what you can to meet their three needs of safety, satisfaction, and connection during these uncertain times.