Coronavirus Update - Tips to Helping Your Child Stay Calm during the School Closure

This will provide you some ideas to help you and your child(ren) find a sense of calm in the midst of the stress and even find some fun at-home diversions that don’t involve turning on the TV.

Tips to Helping Your Child Stay Calm during the School Closure

As the media puts out update after update about the coronavirus, everyone can feel an increasing sense of worry and stress. Children are no exception. We encourage you to limit your child’s exposure to the media. This will provide you some ideas to help you and your child(ren) find a sense of calm in the midst of the stress and even find some fun at-home diversions that don’t involve turning on the TV.

Tip #1: Allow your child to recognize and acknowledge his/her feelings . While children may initially welcome a break from school, they may also have other feelings surface—from feeling unsettled about an interruption in their daily routines to stronger worry about the ambiguity of when life will return to normal. Sometimes, kids can’t name an emo-tion but may report how their body feels—stomach aches, fast heart beat, breathing fast, feeling sweaty. These could be physical signs that cortisol, the stress hormone, has been released into the body. Ask your doctor, if you are con-cerned about other causes of physical symptoms.

Tip #2: Provide a calming influence for them by practicing mindfulness and teaching your child to use mindful strate-gies as well. It may seem obvious, but deep breathing is the best way to reverse the body’s response to stress and perceived danger. This is a great way to activate the para-sympathetic nervous system which promotes a slower heart right, relaxed muscles, cooler skin, and a calmer stomach. If you want to use a visual to promote calm, here is a Youtube video you might try out: The title is “RELAX AND BREATHE: Do nothing for 10 minutes.” There are also many phone apps you can download, including: Calm, Meditate, and Headspace. These apps provide deep breathing exercises, guided medi-tations, and stories to listen to that promote sleep. The re-verse side of this newsletter provide a couple other sugges-tions of activities to calm the mind and body.

Tip #3: Talk to your child about the coronavirus. You can start by asking your child if he/she has any questions and invite them to share what they have heard. That way you can correct any misconceptions and share the facts of what you have learned. Be sure to take into account your child’s age and level of development when deciding how much to share.
There is a great article by the Child Mind Institute that you can read to give you tips about how to handle this conversa-tion. Go to: La informacion aqui esta escrito en espanol tambien.

Take a 4-3-2-1 Mindfulness Walk.

Even in a suburban setting, most of us have access to green spaces that are away from people. During your walk with your child, encourage them to engage their senses to take in the natural world. Have them focus on:
4 sights, 3 sounds, 2, textures to touch, and 1 smell. (we’ll leave taste out of this one...unless you want to bring a snack along!) Older kids can make note of their observations in a Naturalist Notebook. The Mind Up curriculum we use in school encourages students to pay attention to their senses as a way of breaking the cycle of worrying thoughts. When we train our brains to pay close attention to the world around us, we “change the channel” away from those thoughts; what better channel to go to than the Nature channel!

Take the Chain Drawing Challenge.

All you need is a piece of paper and a couple pencils. Place a line or shape on the paper and then tell your child it is his/her turn to add a line or shape to the drawing. Take turns back and forth until you both agree that the drawing is complete. For an added level of activity, you can then give your child the chance to color in the drawing with cray-ons or markers.
This act of cooperative creation can give you a chance to do some-thing fun together when you or your kids are getting bogged down by household chores, academic enrichment activities or boredom.

Play Indoor Balloon Volleyball.

Can’t go out-side? Then turn any room into a volleyball court with 6-10 feet of string and two chairs. You could even have more fun by decorating the net with yarn or streamers; but this is optional. Then blow up a bal-loon and, if desired, decorate that as well. For young-er children, please make sure that uninflated balloons are kept out of reach since these could be a safety hazard. Then let the games begin! Since this is just for fun, kids can make up their own rules about how many times the balloon can be touched before it goes over the “net.” And if you have more than one child, consider adding more than one balloon for an added challenge. Physical activity releases endorphins into the body that create a sense of well being. And kids with a lot of energy will use it up chasing down balloons!

Cites consulted for this include:
• Bennett, Steve & Ruth. 365 TV-Free Activities You Can Do With Your Child. Holbrook, Massachusetts: Adams Media Corporation, 1991.
• The Hawn Foundation. The Mind Up Curriculum; Brain-Focused Strategies for Learning—-and Living. New York, NY: Scholastic, Inc., 2011