How to stay connected with your child: 9 Golden steps for emotional wellbeing during Covid
Promoting the Emotional, Psychological and Social Wellbeing of Children during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the impact of which is still largely unknown, we have entered an unprecedented time. Together, we are faced with enormous challenges. One of these challenges is how to help and support our children, specifically how to promote their emotional, psychological and social wellbeing during this time.
Providing Emotional Support: 9 Key Steps Summarised
Step 1: Listen and Understand
Most important, yet difficult, is to listen to your child. You need to take the time, pause, put aside your own concerns or worries, and listen to what they have to say.
By listening to and understanding your child, you step into their world and you validate their experience, which often comes as a big relief and helps them to feel more contained and secure.
Step 2: Normalize Reactions
Just as adults need to know that their own reactions to an unexpected, unfamiliar situation are normal and to be expected, your child needs to know this too.
In normalising their reactions, your child feels reassured that there is nothing wrong about themselves or their own reactions and that they are simply trying to cope with a new, unfamiliar situation, the knowledge and confirmation of which reduces self-doubt and bolsters mastery and self-confidence.
Step 3: Instil Hope
No matter how difficult or challenging it is, human beings need hope. It is essential that you instil hope in your child. First, provide them with just enough information about their situation and no more, otherwise it becomes overwhelming. Second, identify some aspect that will return to normal. Third, reassure them about the future re-occurrence of this.
When you instil hope in your child you encourage, mobilise, and strengthen them to more effectively deal with the difficulties and challenges of their present situation.
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Step 4: Facilitate Insight with Reassurance
After reaching your child on an emotional level, listening to them, normalising their reactions, and instilling hope, the next step is to engage them intellectually or cognitively, that is, by facilitating insight. By helping your child better understand their situation as well as their reactions or, at the very least, intentions as rational and positive attempts to cope, they develop more insight about the situation and themselves.
By assisting your child to develop insight, their coping repertoire extends beyond an emotional reaction to a rational intellectual response, which bolsters mastery and self-confidence further.
Step 5: Promote Problem-Solving
Having enabled a cognitive response, the next step is to promote effective problem-solving by trying to identify the problem, brainstorm possible solutions, and then test each alternative. By breaking the problem down into different parts your child will feel less overwhelmed, after which you can help them to problem solve one or more of the parts.
Through promoting problem-solving, you and your child can start identifying problems together and brainstorming possible solutions relating to the different aspects of the current situation, e.g. the Covid-19 Pandemic, lockdown and home confinement, and online learning at home.
Step 6: Identify and Reinforce Coping Strategies
It is important that your child understands that they do have the resources and the skills to deal with the present situation. Help them to identify and validate things they are doing now or things that they have done in the past that have been successful and can help them to cope now.
In identifying successful coping strategies, now and previously, your child is receiving validation about their competencies to cope. This empowers your child!
“When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it’s our job to share our calm, not to join their chaos.” – L.R Knost
Step 7: Validate Positive Changes
Children are quick to find the positive in any situation, so stay connected with them and help them to verbalise new achievements and meaning. This enables a new narrative, exploring new shared experiences together.
When you validate positive changes, this enables you and your child to create a new meaningful narrative, not only for now, but also in the future once this experience has passed.
Step 8: Identify and Manage Relapse
Encountering or experiencing a difficulty that was anticipated provides some degree of comfort, security and encouragement to deal with and overcome it. By way of analogy then, try to stand behind your child rather than in front of them, so that if they do experience difficulty they can fall back into your arms.
By anticipating and managing future difficulties or relapses, your child feels more secure and confident in dealing with the situation, without the risk of failure or judgement.
Step 9: Know Limits of Care and When to Refer
No one person can do or be everything to everyone. In times of difficulty and challenge, each person within a relationship, family, community and society has a special role to fulfil. Should you feel concerned or worried about the emotional, psychological, social, or physical wellbeing of your child, remember you are not alone.
In knowing the limits of care and by reaching out, you and your child will find the necessary support to get through this stronger and more resilient. The team at Therapy Works Centre is available and provides comprehensive psychological services including parental support, child and adolescent therapy, as well as a range of assessments.
We are available throughout South Africa via our Virtual Centre, offering comprehensive Online Psychological Services for parents, children and adolescents alike.
Contact us now to book an appointment with a skilled and dedicated member of our team!