As a parent, teacher, and community member this is a challenging time for all. We at Bad Habit Boutique know how important it is to stay informed and support each other. I work Part Time here and have been with BHB for over 7 years. I value these staff members and their families as if they were my own. I have worked in the public service field for over 15 years and currently work for a school district as a school counselor. We have been shut down and I am home with my little's making sure they are aware but knowledgeable.
Here are some great talking tips to help you with your minis and this challenging time. I borrowed these from a fellow counselor her name is Keri and she has a great website to which I will include. I also including some visuals and some great video options.
Prevention Strategies Thank you Counselor Keri for these awesome tips
1. Be Available to Talk
Kids have big questions, and it’s okay to answer them. Take cues from your kids and offer clear but concise answers in developmentally appropriate language. Keep the focus on what you are doing to prepare and prevention strategies that are within your control like proper hand washing and avoiding large crowds.
2. Limit News Exposure Even when it seems like they’re not listening, kids pick up on what they hear on TV and radio. Newscasters’ tone of voice can be enough to set off alarm bells for kids, and unfamiliar words like pandemic and outbreak can be fear-inducing. Opt for watching or listening to news reports when kids are in bed or choose to read news articles if possible.
3. Stick to Routines and Boundaries Kids thrive with routines and boundaries, and predictability can be very comforting in anxious times. When some things feel out of control, routines can give kids a sense of security. School-aged kids might be used to seeing a visual schedule in their classrooms, so try using one at all. Write your daily routine on a whiteboard or make a paper schedule together. And make sure you include fun activities in your daily routine! Play board games, play outside, or have silly dance parties.
4. Set & Track Daily Goals Set small daily goals and track progress so kids can work toward something important to them! Make sure the goals are within their control. Set goals around how much they’ll read each day, how many free throws they’ll practice each day, or how many kind gestures they’ll show toward family members. Track progress on a goal chart so they can have a visual reminder of the progress they’re making!
5. Start or Continue Mindful Practices Mindfulness is an amazing practice for people of all ages. If you don’t have a regular mindful practice already built in to your family time, try adding it to your routine. This can look like 5 minute morning or bedtime guided meditation (look for apps like Calm or Headspace) or simple mindful mandala coloring. Find a mindful practice that you all enjoy doing together!
6. Practice Controlled Breathing If your child is showing signs of worry, take a moment to practice controlled breathing. You can simply count breaths for them (inhale 1 2 3 4 5 hold 1 2 3 4 exhale 1 2 3 4 5 6 7) or use tools like a pinwheel or bubbles. Help them slow their breathing and really exhale all of the air to calm their bodies and minds.
7. Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation Help your child release tension from their body with a progressive muscle relaxation. In this exercise, children gradually tense up their muscles and then release them. Find scripts for this on your favorite mindfulness app or on Youtube: https://youtu.be/cDKyRpW-Yuc
8. Use Grounding Strategies Grounding strategies or techniques help kids reorient to the present moment when the worries are too big. These techniques help kids connect with their current environment in the here and now when their minds are imagining potential future scenarios. Try all of these grounding strategies to see which one your kids like best!
GROUNDING TECHNIQUES FOR KIDS
9. Set a Timer When it’s hard to let go of worries, set a 3- or 5-minute timer. During those 3 or 5 minutes, tell kids they’re allowed to think about the worry all they want! But when the timer goes off, it’s time to get up, change positions, move to a different room or environment, and think of something else.
10. Exercise Creativity If you have a child who likes to draw or write, try a creative exercise. Have your child personify their worry by imagining what the worry might look like if it were a real person, creature or thing. Maybe it looks like a big dragon. Maybe it looks like a monster. Or maybe it looks like an annoying mosquito. Then, they can draw a picture or comic or write a story about themselves as a superhero who defeats the worry!
11. Use a Journal or Feelings Tracker Give your kids a journal to write about feelings or use a feelings tracker daily. Sometimes worries are so big it feels like they define our whole day, but when we keep track of our feelings throughout the day with a visual tool, it’s easier to see that worries are a smaller part of a healthy balance of emotions.
12. Acknowledge the Worries It’s completely okay to acknowledge our kids’ worries rather than ignoring them. Acknowledging worries won’t solidify them but it will help your child understand that worry is a protective feeling that alerts us to potential danger. We can help ourselves remember it’s just potential danger though, and use strategies to keep our worries in check. If you’re looking for ways to explain worry to your child, try these methods.
13. Avoid Participating in Worry Rituals If your child is demonstrating any type of worry or checking ritual (i.e. washing hands excessively), avoid participating or encouraging these rituals. This sends the message to kids that the rituals are necessary when they see the adult they’re looking to for support doing it too. Remind kids of the everyday strategies and routines you already have in place to prevent or protect against illness, like washing before eating or wiping down shopping carts with disinfectant wipes.
14. Avoid Excessive Reassurance It’s natural to want to reassure our kids! We want them to feel safe and calm. Reassure when needed but avoid offering it too frequently as this can prevent kids from developing their own positive self talk. Practice things they can say to themselves when they’re feeling worried like, “I can control my breathing,” or “My family is taking care of me.”
15. Be Mindful of Your Own Worries Again, it’s completely reasonable for everyone to have some level of worry. But kids do pick up on our feelings and notice our anxieties, and they will take cues from us. If you’re feeling anxious, practice your own mindful or calming activities, call a friend or loved one, practice self care, or reach out for help. Even if you’re stuck at home, your therapist may offer phone services or you can try an app like Better Help or Talkspace.
Thank you and as always BHB is about supporting all and loving all. Sincerely, Ms. Sayavong or Ms. S is how my students refer to me.