By now your children will have been at home under lock down rules for many weeks and may even be getting prepared physically and emotionally to go back to school. They have been separated from their friends, their teachers, and have had a totally different routine – now its all going to change again as they prepare to go back to some form of “ normality” – whatever that may be!
So, what signs will tell you that your youngster is worried, anxious, upset or just plain scared of what’s going on?
Well, some children may be having more tantrums that usual, whilst others may just seem a bit quiet and sad. Some may show some physical signs of anxiety like wetting the bed or pooing their pants. There are so many little signs that you, as a parent, will notice, and I would say that anything that you notice that is unusual for YOUR child, you should attend to.
What we really need to do as parents, is to get our children “talking” about their feelings and emotions.
I hear you say
“But HOW do I get my child talking without upsetting him?”
If your child gets upset, don’t be too worried – its good that he or she can let their emotions out – so let them cry, shout, or scream if it makes them feel a bit better and gets rid of pent up tension.
Here are a few tips that you could use when trying to get your child to open up about his/her feelings:
- Ball Game: Use a ball to throw to the child and as you throw it say “ today I am feeling scared….”. then let them do it! It works! You will see what emotions come out!
- Dinner time chats: Whilst you are sitting around the dinner table have a chat with each family member about how they are feeling about things, let the child see that other family members sometimes feel scared or worried too.
- Write a letter: With little ones you could suggest that they write a letter to the good fairy/santa/ whoever! To let them know how they are feeling and they can leave it somewhere and hope that it will be read and maybe they will get a reply (but mums and dads make sure you do!) or they can just write a letter to whomever they wish – and not post it!
- Make up a rhyme: Have fun making up little rhymes and get the child to make one up that starts with “ I am feeling…” and see what comes out!
- Magazines and photos: Have a look at some pictures in magazines of their favourite celebrities and idols and ask them how they think those people are feeling. Alternatively, get some old family albums out and have a look at the photos of family members and ask the child how they think certain are feeling. It will prompt a discussion on feelings.
- Play Acting: Do a little role play – if your child is worried about school for example – ask him to pretend to be his teacher and you can be him!
- Glove Puppets: For little ones, use glove puppets or teddies and dollies to do a bit of role play. It’s amazing what imaginations children have!
- Role Modelling; Tell and show the child how you are feeling (don’t frighten them) but it’s good for children to see that grown- ups worry too – but they know how to manage it.
- Flashcards: For younger children you could use flashcards – make your own with smiley/sad/angry/happy/scared faces so that you can ask them to point to one and then you can open up the conversation about what it is that makes them feel the way they do.
And finally last but not least… just TALK to your child – about feelings, about love, about life – COMMUNICATE – it is SO important!
If your child is suffering from anxiety or any other emotional problem, do get help as soon as possible as it only tends to get worse. On-line sessions now available – you can find out more here.