By Piya Marker
Anxiety happens when you think you have to figure out everything all at once. Breathe. Be strong. You’ve got this! Take it day by day – Karen Salmansohn
Before we even attempt to help our children deal with their fears and anxieties we must always remember to work through our own apprehensions, fears and negativities first. Children are extremely intuitive and can sense when we do not believe what we are telling them. So, this is tip No. 1. Always be honest with your children, they understand so much more than we often give them credit for. Honesty must always be age appropriate as we must be careful to not burden little minds with worries that they cannot fathom.
Count your blessings
Draw their attention to all the things we can be grateful for. For all the restrictions and changes that the lockdown has imposed on us, we must always remain focussed on the many good things in our lives. The things we take for granted. Starting with a roof over our head, food to eat, being surrounded by family, the good health of friends and family, even our internet that helps us stay connected or even just to relax and enjoy screen time. The best way to remind not just our children but all of us is to each say three things we are grateful for at the end of the day. It’s amazing how at first, we struggle to count these blessings as many times the things we have to be most grateful for are the things we take most for granted.
Validate their feelings
Don’t be hard on yourself or your children. It’s okay if you’re scared. Things are uncertain and can be quite unsettling. You’re scared because you care, and caring is never a bad thing. So now you must find new ways to show you care, and we must start with ourselves! A lot of things are upside down right now. Remember to be patient and kind with yourself first. Nobody expects us to have an endless supply of positivity. It’s absolutely okay to feel what you do. Remind your child of all this. Validate their feelings without allowing them to dwell on those feelings and sink into gloom. Discuss what they feel, understand it and then divert their attention to the positives that surround them.
Read, do things together
Hone skills and talents. For all the times we said we wish we had time to learn something new, to teach our child, to read, to watch, to try. There’s no better time than now. Use this time to stimulate your children’s interests. It would be ideal if your child and you could do things together. This will give you both a chance to bond and feel connected. We tend to spend time with our children instructing them and telling them what to do. Watching you learn with them will make them look upon this learning as treasured and special. The key is to be constructively occupied and that will automatically fill our thoughts with positivity and alleviate most of our fears and anxieties.
Recognise your child’s efforts
Look at how much you’ve already managed to adjust to this. How resilient you actually are. There is no right or normal way to respond to this because it has never happened before. Give yourself and your child the credit you both deserve. Take solace in the truth that everyone is grappling with this and that you are not alone in this. The whole world is trying to figure it out. So it’s absolutely okay if you haven’t figured it all out already. Recognise your child’s efforts to adjust to the uncertainty, applaud the smallest achievements. Children rely largely on us to validate their efforts. They have moved from lives that are scheduled with classes, play dates and activities to confinement at home. This in itself deserves huge praise. Tell them you are proud of how well they are handling this. Help them stay connected with their friends and family on the phone and all the new digital platforms that have opened up to us all.
And finally, please always remember that with parenting there are no real answers, just tried and tested stories to learn from. Follow your instinct and do the best you can. Every parent goes through difficulties with parenting. We all enjoy the ups and we must also learn to embrace the downs. It has to be life’s most enriching journey.
(The writer is Director, Head of The Aditya Birla Integrated School – TABIS)
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