Thank you to Noelle Porter of Mount Harmony for this information on managing stress and anxiety during stressful times. These are notes and resources from our most recent KidMin (Children’s Ministers) conference call on March 23, 2020.
It’s important to manage your own stress but also the stress of your children and the children in your church care.
The CDC has a comprehensive post on managing stress and anxiety that includes ideas for parents, for responders, and for people who have been released from quarantine, plus a list of additional resources.
From The reThink Group, here’s an Anxiety Conversation Guide for parents of elementary schoolers and an Anxiety Conversation Guide for parents of preschoolers.
Tips on Handling Anxiety
- Limit the news
News outlets are providing coverage 24/7 on COVID-19 and with constant exposure, it can be very overwhelming. Try limiting your exposure to 30 mins. to an hour or so daily. The nightly news provides a good synopsis of updates and interviews that can keep you informed.
- Distract with fun activities
Cancelled appointments and closures have provided lots of down time for families and individuals. Fill these days with things you would like to try or have put off doing. One family gave ballroom dancing lessons at Christmas to Mom and Dad. Now is a perfect time to turn your living room into a dance studio and capitalize on those lessons. Walking, painting, crafting, cooking, reading, organizing, building, redecorating are all viable alternatives. Get those creative juices going and do something new!
- Create structure and routine
As much as we grumble about routine, we are all creatures of habit and crave structure and routine. Create some type of structure to your day. Balance your day with self-care, connecting others, exercise, work/chores, and time for relaxation. This helps create normalcy which in turn keeps stress at bay.
- Be careful how you talk about the virus around children
The adage, “Little pitchers have big ears’ is true. Children are listening and picking up on ques from our conversations and interactions with others. A casual comment can cause undue concern and worry for a child.
Apps for Team Communication
- Link Tree
- Brain Break
Helping Children Deal with Anxiety
By Noelle Porter
Noelle Porter is a licensed counselor and mother of two. She spoke recently to Kid Min leaders re: the coronavirus. Here are some of her takeaways that will be helpful to parents as they lead their children in responding to the virus.
Remind your kiddos that they are safe. Sometimes that means doing a little education behind the virus and let them know that we handle this virus just like we would any other virus in regards to hand washing and taking care of ourselves. The brain pop app has a little video about the virus and there are also social stories already created to help explain everything to your little worry monsters!
Less is more! Give them facts that are developmentally appropriate.
Allow them to talk about their feelings around the virus and what it is like to see so many adults show signs of worry and panic. This can be in the form of drawing, reading, or talking.
Remind them that worry is common but that we don’t want to let worry take over our day to day lives. Parents can help by:
- Turning the news off
- Distract with fun activities
- Continue with a daily schedule that is predictable for the kids (kids thrive off of structure and routine)
- Be careful what you say and how you say it in front of your kids. They have big elephant ears and take our cues as to how to handle their own anxiety.
Help them find the positives and how God can impact lives through this process.
Remind them that God is in control and already has a fix for all of this!