During the COVID-19 mandated shelter-in-place many people are feeling dysregulated while they are finding peace with their new normal. As we know humans are social creatures and we crave connectivity for survival. During times like this when we are forced to stay indoors, we feel the effects both mentally, physically, and emotionally. It is hard to sit in the space because we are left sitting alone and they can be hard for some. It is in these quiet moments that the emotions stirred up by the current uncertainty consume our thoughts. For many, these thoughts are new and hard to sit with, they may feel big and overwhelming. Many of our coping skills we normally have access too may no longer be accessible. Additionally, we may have additional stressors occurring while we are working on getting acclimated.
We need to remember that children and adolescents are feeling a shift in their environments as well. Although they may not feel pressure to work from home and contribute to the household income. They do feel loneliness while being away from peers, anxiety when wondering how their future will be affected and frustration when they try to continue school at home.
Both parents and children have been impacted from schools moving to home-based curriculum. This puts the pressure on parents to help in the classroom and this causes unwanted anxiety and pressure for children and adolescents to pick up the material faster. However, homework time may be an opportunity to help connect with your child. Below are some ideas on ways to bring conversation around emotion and feelings of unsettled, frightened, loss of control:
- Children and adolescents learn about emotional regulation and self-soothing by example through their caregivers.
- Be candid when speaking about current events; give examples of emotions of uncertainty and show that these emotions are not scary or something to avoid.
- Be vulnerable in your conversations.
- Children use mirror neurons when learning about emotions. They pick up emotions with or without explanation. The best thing to do is not focus on hiding your emotion or become fixated on the things you can control. Rather be open about the feelings you are showing and give explanations about why they are happening.
In giving the context behind the feeling the parent will be able to the child that sometimes we sit with unknowns and that is okay. Sometimes we sit with big emotions or uncomfortable emotions. Sometimes, especially in times like this when we are all feeling dysregulated and separated from one another, we have a hard time sitting with some emotions and we may need to connect to those around us and lean on support and be honest in sharing the tough times. Honesty about what we are feeling will help teach the younger generations tools and understanding of emotions.
Resources: Yerkovich, Milan, and Kay Yerkovich. How We Love: Discover Your Love Style, Enhance Your Marriage. WaterBrook, 2017.
This blog was written by Natasha Griffin, Marriage and Family Therapy Trainee. Natasha is supervised by Danielle Fitch LMFT #94672