When crisis strikes, It’s easy as adults to get caught up in the next steps for protecting ourselves and our families. It’s possible that we’re taking a lot of action out of scarcity and fear. We may even be doing self care so we can manage our emotions. But what about our kids. They seem fine right? Underneath it all, kids feel the stress in a worldly crisis on different levels. But they all feel it. It’s important to help your kids prepare for what might come weather it’s natural disasters, diseases, accidents, deaths, or even unforeseen traumatic events. Are we talking to our kids enough about these things? How much is too much? We want to protect their fragile minds and spirits. How much do they really need to know and how can we help them cope when in a crisis. I’ll be answering these questions and more in blog post.
I want to start off by saying I’m not a child physiologist so if any of the information I share with you today doesn’t sit well, feel free to pass it up and just take what feels right for you and your family.
We’ll all experience different kids of crisis’
There are different kinds of crisis’ our world will always endure. There are natural disasters and unforeseen accidents like car accidents or 911 type terrorist acts that happen rather quickly which can put one into a state of shock and shutdown. Then we have crisis’ like we’re seeing right now with the spread of a virus. It’s not an immediate panic. It’s a slow buildup. What your child might see in a scenario like this is calm collected parents who start to turn frantic as the weeks go by. They see their parents moving with the current of the media and what the world is telling them they should feel. I’d like to address this latter scenario first.
Let’s have more family council’s together
Since it’s very unpredictable in a lot of ways, it’s important to sit your kids down and tell them what’s going on. I personally don’t have the news on in my home so my kids aren’t exposed to any of that. But I want to make sure they are aware in a way that doesn’t cause panic or anxiety in them. I talk to them about how the virus is affecting people through their lungs and how it can spread rather quickly. We talk about what some of the symptoms will feel like in their body and they may or may not experience a certain level of pain associated with having the virus. I assure them that I will do everything in my power to take care of them should something happen.
For now though, the family diet might look a little different. I tell them we’re going to take extra care of our bodies. “We’re going to be in bed by 8:00pm so we can get really good sleep.” ” We’re going to eat more vegetables and fruits than usual.” ” We’re going to take supplements like cod liver oil, desiccated liver, and vitamin C.” “We’re going to get out in the sun to get some vitamin D every single day.” ” We’re going to eat more fermented foods. I want you drinking a cup of bone broth every single day, and taking your vitamins and using the essential oils I have to help boost the immune system. We’re laying off the sugar or limiting the amount we’re eating.”
We’re taking an afternoon/evening walk together – barefoot even so we can boost immunity through the earth’s pull. This is called grounding. In the evenings, when dad gets home from work we’re going to have more family discussions to help support you and any concerns you have.
Moving into phase 2
At first, they won’t really understand why this is important. That’s okay. As the weeks unfold with the virus starts looking more grim, your kids will pick up on your energy. If you’re more anxious as a parent, they’ll take some of that on too. I want you to know that this is okay.
We’re all doing the best we can in a situation like this. At this point, it’s important to sit the kids down again (this is phase two) and teach them how to process their emotions, so the stress and anxiety can subside. This is a great time to bring in a daily family meditation practice together, even if your kids aren’t feeling any stress at all. Teach them how to deep belly breathe and clear their heads. Do some kundalini yoga together. it might look silly, but it’s so helpful for releasing negative energy in the body. Plus anyone can do Kundalini. You don’t have to be flexible.
Get them a journal
The next step is to get them a little journal for their thoughts. I am having my kids journal daily. Not always on the coronavirus, but mostly I want them writing down all the thoughts they have inside their head. I am doing the same thing. I journal 2-3 pages daily. We call this “Taking out the trash”. If we leave anxious thoughts in our head, they start to smell foul and take over. The only way to rid them is to get them out on paper. Plus when kids are out of school anyways, this can be their handwriting assignment. Give them a journal prompt every day and have them write one page, or draw a picture.
Teaching them to feel their feelings
In phase two where panic starts to set in for families and you’ve introduced meditation and journaling, now is a good time to teach your kids how to feel their feelings and not suppress them. Kids still might be distracted with electronics and not really care about what’s going on. That’s okay, this is the time to teach them anyways. Before their panic sets in. I would sit the kids down and go through the steps of feeling your feelings.
1. Find it in your body. Where are you feeling stress and anxiety? Is it in your head, your stomach, your shoulders, your heart? Where do you feel the stress.
2. Give it a name. One word. Is it actually stress, fear, anxiety, depression, frustration, disappointment. What word best describes theirs and your feelings.
3. Now give it a color – What color best describes this emotion?
4. What does it look like in your body? Think about it. Is it thick black goo? Is it hard rocks? Have describe what it looks like in their body. Of course we don’t know what it actually looks like but this is a good exercise.
5. Breathe into it. Don’t hold your breathe. Feel it and just let it be there. Be okay with letting anxiety or fear hang out with you for the day. Don’t resist it. Breathe into it.
6. Teach them that the only reason that feeling is there is because of sentences in their brain. Teach them to allow it to be like this for as long as possible. It’s totally normal and fine that they feel this way. When you’re ready to let it go, it’s time to think a new thought, but don’t be in a hurry to get rid of it.
7. It’s time to replace the negative thought with a more positive one – only if they’re ready. Here are some optional thoughts. You pick the one that feels true for you or make another one up. “Everything works out exactly as it’s suppose to”. “I am okay right here, right now”, “I have everything I need right now”. “How can I make this situation more fun for myself and my family”. “I trust myself that I’ll know what to do exactly when I need to do it”. “I love myself and I love all the humans in the world”. “This is the perfect time to learn more about me and what I love to do”. “I can be afraid and that’s okay”. “I can allow anxiety to be with me today”. “It’s okay to feel whatever I am feeling”. “How can I make this a great day today”?
Just notice all the different thoughts you can choose to feel and practice that will generate a completely different emotion. Sometimes, I can even get the thought to generate excitement in my body amidst the chaos of the world. It’s very uplifting when I can do this. Thoughts are so powerful, and we get to choose to take back that power when things go south.
Talking about the heavy stuff
When or if you feel you are ready, it’s time to talk to your kids about the heavy stuff. What might happen? You can even go to worst case scenario if you choose to. I actually like to, just to show my brain that even in the worst case scenario, I am going to be fine.
Things you might bring up with kids are “What do you think you would do if in the middle of the night you felt the ground shake and your bed was moving. We were having a big earthquake and things were falling off the walls. What would you do?” This might be a good time to practice what to do. Of course they’ll feel panicked in a situation like this, but they’ll manage it much better if you’ve already practiced and prepared for it. Where will they go? How can they change their thoughts from major panic to “I’m going to be just fine”. “My family is going to be just fine”. Let’s even say you lost a family member in the earthquake or even their best friend. (worst case scenario) – teach them again the steps to feeling their feelings and breathing through the pain.
Let them feel whatever they need to
Let you child feel whatever they need to feel. Don’t try to make them happier or less upset. Don’t shush them. If they need to scream and cry, let them. Calmly tell them that when they are ready, you can help them feel their feelings to get through this time. Go through the steps over and over again with them. Run another scenario.
-What would you do if mom or dad was in a terrible car accident, and you were home alone for a really long time and couldn’t get a hold of us? What’s the protocol? Do they go to a neighbors house? Are they trained to call the police or 911? Do they know their address and phone number should they ever need to tell a trusted adult? Go through the scenario and play it out with the kids. Come up with a plan together.
-What if the family was in a car accident and the car was upside down and we couldn’t get out of our seatbelts? Teach them the steps of feeling their feelings, breathing through it calmly. Then redirecting your thoughts. I’m here, I’m okay. Everything will work out exactly how it’s suppose to.
Teach them a spiritual practice
I think it’s extremely important to teach your kids a spiritual practice. In addition to mediation, & yoga, teach them how to pray. Teach them about God and Jesus Christ and how to ask for help when they’re scared. A lot of time my kids will ask that angels be with them to comfort them when they’re scared or need extra protection. It’s really sweet. Teach them some children’s hymns they can sing that’ll bring them comfort and peace. Kids learn so often through music. They gain strength.
A lesson on serving others
Maybe your family won’t be much affected by crisis. It’s important to teach your kids to serve others who are. Show them what kindness looks like through your example. Take a meal to someone in need at this time. Do it if only to show your children what it looks like to serve others. Teach them to be kind to elderly people. To hold open the door for them or large groups of people. Is someone out of toilet paper? Take your kids with you to drop off toilet paper to neighbors in need. The more experiences kids have serving others, the more leadership they take on as they age. They remember how good it feels to serve others in need. Don’t deny them these experiences. Try to do one weekly with them.
It’s okay not knowing what’s going to happen
Teach your kids that their brains are going to want to know what’s happening next. All our brains want to know. It’s not necessary to know. Teach them that it’s okay not knowing what’s coming next. Trust yourself that you’ll know exactly what to do in each situation. Your child will learn to listen to their inner guide.
Our new normal
After teaching them all these things, we need to move forward with as much normality as we can. Let them keep being kids and doing kid things. I’ll come back with another post on “how to make lock down more fun”. The best way to keep everyone calm, is to keep living and doing things you love to do at home. Watch movies with popcorn if you still have electricity. Jump on the trampoline together. Play board games.
I know without a doubt that our kids will be so much more prepared when we have conversations with them and practice with them regularly feeling our feelings and running possible scenarios. Teach them that “Everything works out in the end – if it’s not working out, it’s not the end”.
Wishing you all the best at this time in our lives. My thoughts and prayers are with you daily. Hang in there my friends and keep doing your part to keep your mental and physical state strong, resilient, and healthy.
Health Coach Heather
p.s. Are you or a family member struggling with depression, anxiety or stress at this time? Please let me help you. For a limited time, my coaching sessions are 1/2 off. Take advantage of mastering your mind in this crisis. Schedule your coaching call HERE