Hi Owlkids Family!
Struggling to keep everyone in the house mentally healthy and happy? Us, too! So we reached out to local clinical psychologist and Owlkids consultant Dr. Ashley Major for some advice. Here’s what she said. Thanks, Ashley!
Check in with your child’s feelings.
Schedule one-on-one time with each child several times a week to check-in with how they are feeling. Provide children with an opportunity to discuss and express themselves, and any worries or frustration they may be experiencing. Give your child your full attention during this time, actively listen, and empathize with their concerns. Try to avoid giving advice, suggestions, or going for the bright side. All children need their feelings to be accepted, heard, and understood, just as they are, without being changed. This can help children dissipate the feelings and make them easier to handle.
Help your child connect with others.
Maintaining some form of social contact is an important antidote to feelings of isolation and loneliness during a time when we are all encouraged to keep our distance from each other. Help your child stay connected with peers in a safe way by setting up virtual playdates. Suggest activities such as Battleship or Guess Who. Children can also take turns reading stories to each other, doing crafts, creating or sharing music, or doing show and tell.
Balance family togetherness with personal space.
With everyone cooped up together, it’s not uncommon for your home to feel like a pressure cooker. Times of positive connection and togetherness are important for families; however, everyone in the family should have some time to themselves to replenish their batteries. If you have a family schedule, be sure to include “quiet time” for each family member.
Start a family mindfulness practice.
Being “mindful” or being “aware” of our surroundings as well as the thoughts and feelings we are experiencing in that moment, has numerous benefits for mental health and well-being, including decreased anxiety. Children of all ages can benefit from mindfulness and it can help decrease stress in parents too. Mindfulness can be done in many creative ways to engage children and a quick internet search will yield many fun activities that can be done as a family.
Take control of your own thoughts and feelings.
During times of uncertainty, thoughts can often wander into the unknown, which can lead to “worst case scenario” thinking. However, the way we perceive a situation can affect the degree of anxiety and fear that we experience. It is important to remember that worries are concerns about what might happen in the future, but there are no guarantees and thoughts are not facts. Oftentimes, our worries do not turn out the way we expect and, in fact, we are able to handle much more than we believe we can. Mantras, which are brief phrases we repeat to ourselves, can help counter worry thoughts or “worst case scenario” thinking. Phrases, such as “I can handle this,” “I’m stronger than I think,” “this will pass,” or “thoughts are not facts” can be helpful. In addition, focusing on what we can control and accepting what we can’t can also reduce anxiety and fear.