Teaching children to find a sense of safety during COVID

If there’s one thing that covid has been teaching us it’s that safety is an inside job amidst all these uncertainties.

It’s difficult to give children definite answers as the pandemic unfolds and new information needs to be integrated into their lives quite frequently. 

The only thing we can control is taking charge of our own emotional state no matter what goes on around us. As a life lesson this is what we want to teach our children….No matter what life brings, no matter what goes on around us, go within to remain centered and grounded in the eye of the storm. Here are some ways to help them navigate their covid anxiety.

  1. Validate their emotions: Validating a child’s emotions is always a first step. Repeat what you hear them say without trying to solve it. Just listen and validate the emotions. Ex: I hear that you’re afraid of getting sick. (Don’t add: “but don’t worry we will make sure that you don’t get sick”)
  2. Safety is an inside job: Teach them that safety comes from the inside. Fear is a feeling that they can control, not by repressing it but instead by giving it a voice, making a plan and learning to trust that things work out for our highest good. Also, teach them to live in the NOW moment rather than fearing what may come in the future. 
  3. Don’t discuss covid from a place of fear: As a parent check yourself and your own fears so that you don’t discuss this topic with your child from that place. Work on yourself first to find more alignment within yourself before discussing it with your child. There are just as many stories of people who have had covid and are ok. Where do you place your focus? Also avoid having children watch/hear the news even if it’s playing it the background. News shows tend to express topics with urgency and on repeat. This feeds fearful thoughts. 
  4. Implement and model healthy life habits: The one thing you can control are the healthy habits that you implement in your child’s life. Teach them about building up their immunity to fight anything through healthy eating, exercise and outdoor play. Implement covid precaution practices that you feel are right for your family. 
  5. Teach them about the circle of control: Teach children that there are things in life that we CAN control and other things that we CAN’T. For example our own reactions to things we CAN control and it’s our responsibility to shift the way we speak to ourselves and others about a topic. Our healthy habits we CAN control by making good choices.
  6. If a friend has a different precaution practice it doesn’t make them bad: Different people will have different beliefs about covid practices. Some families take more precautions than others. Teach your child that this doesn’t make someone good or bad. They may have torn emotions towards friends if they see that their friend doesn’t wear a mask while they are a stickler for doing so. Teach a child that these are simply choices and do not make their friends a good or bad person.

Always make sure that you create a safe space in your child’s life where all fears are validated and where they can share freely any emotions that come up regarding covid. There are many changes taking place for them at school. They need a safe outlet to discuss any fear or frustrations that come up so that they can navigate easily through this new way of experiencing life.

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Hi, I 'm Nancy

I’m an Occupational Therapist (OT) with more than 18 years of experience and whose greatest passion is working with children of all abilities. 

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