Resources & More
How do I talk to my child about COVID19 and all these changes?
Be honest, factual, and direct
• Do not avoid talking about it. Children are aware things are different and that something is going on. Having a discussion about it can help alleviate fears and answer unasked questions.•
• Click here to view and listen to a comic strip for kids explaining this novel virus from NPR
• Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should balance COVID-19 facts with appropriate reassurances that their schools and homes are safe and that adults are there to help keep them healthy and to take care of them if they do get sick. Give simple examples of the steps people take every day to stop germs and stay healthy, such as washing hands. Use language such as “adults are working hard to keep you safe.”
• Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what will happen if COVID-19 comes to their school or community. They may need assistance separating reality from rumor and fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to prevent germs from spreading.
• Upper middle school and high school students are able to discuss the issue in a more in-depth (adult-like) fashion and can be referred directly to appropriate sources of COVID-19 facts. Provide honest, accurate, and factual information about the current status of COVID-19. Having such knowledge can help them feel a sense of control.
• Discuss what you are all doing to protect yourselves such as good hygiene, frequent hand washing, and keeping distance from others.
Discuss what is staying the same
• Talk about what will be consistent in the family. Discuss what aspects of daily routines and every day life are staying the same. Provide a sense of normalcy.
Ask what questions they have and what they have heard about it & Just Listen
• Ask your children what questions they have about the illness, about cancellations, and about ways their lives are being affected.
• Ask them what they have heard about it. Older children have probably heard rumors that need to be dispelled and younger children may have heard things that confused or scared them.
• Address your children’s questions and be honest if you do not know the answer. Let them know that once you learn it you will share it with them.
• Older children and teens will want to know more specifics and may have more detailed questions. Prepare yourself to answer these questions or look them up on your own and talk to them about it again later.
Validate and reflect their feelings
• Your children will have a range of feelings about the virus and the impacts and changes it has caused. Let them know that their feelings are normal and ok to feel.
• Avoid telling them there is no reason to worry and instead let them know that it is normal and remind them of what you are doing to protect yourselves.
• Children may also be upset or angry about activity cancellations. These feelings are also valid and dismissing or minimizing of these feelings should also be avoided.
“Thanks for sharing how you feel. It is normal to feel worried/scared/confused when you hear about people being sick/big changes happening.”
“I understand you are mad about soccer (etc.) being cancelled. Being upset when something you were excited about/something you enjoy is taken away is normal.”
Avoid over exposure to the news
• Try to limit the exposure to media for children whether that be through their own devices or social media or from seeing or hearing what adults are watching or reading.
• It is understandable to want to keep up with the news and any updates, but adults should take care to make sure children are not being exposed to it.
Manage own stress and anxiety, model self-care and acknowledgement own feelings
• Adults are feeling the same feelings of fear, anxiety, and stress over the coronavirus and its impact on our lives. Parents and other caregivers have an opportunity to model accepting their feelings and taking care of themselves.
• Taking care of yourself is very important at this time especially. Children feel the energy of adults and if parents and caregivers are anxious and stressed it will be more difficult to manage the extended amount of time with children at home.
• Only regulated adults can help co-regulate children.
• To help avoid children’s exposure to the news and to manage your own feelings of anxiety when hearing it set a time once or twice a day to check in with the latest updates and do this when children are not around.
Click here to view a video of Laurie doing a puppet show about this- for little and big kids to watch.
HOW TO TALK TO YOUR CHILD ABOUT COVID19
Click here to learn more about what to say and not to say to children.
Offering an organized way of viewing resources and links for parents and for adults.
MANAGING KIDS AND YOURSELF DURING QUARANTINE
Click here to find sample schedules and tips on discipline, finding joy in home schooling, keeping routine and engaging your child.
ANXIETY AND WORRY
Click here to read more about the harmful impact of catastrophizing this pandemic and what you can do to stay mentally healthy now.
WHAT DOES TELETHERAPY OR TELEPLAYTHERAPY LOOK LIKE?
Click here to learn more about teletherapy and all the options for continuing or starting work with children, teens, adults and couples.
CHECK OUT OUR VIRTUAL GROUPS
Click here to learn more about current groups online for kids, parents and adults.
Offering TeleTherapy and TelePlayTherapy for current and NEW clients.
We know how to connect- in person or through telehealth.
We know how to listen- what is spoken and what is unspoken.
We know how to observe- to see fleeting worry or tender courage in one's eyes.
We know how to hope- to believe in our collective goodwill and shared humanity.
How do I manage my Kids and Myself during a Quarantine?
THE SQUARE METHOD: If you do these 4 things, you and your family can maintain equilibrium in these times. These actions can help you stay regulated, so that you are best fit to provide comfort and fun to your children and family.
Click here to watch my YouTube video explaining an overview of this method.
You've heard time and time again about the importance of routine. Routine makes kids feel safe because they have predictability in their day. This predictability fosters and maintains a child's regulated sense of self when they know what to expect next. Routine is even more important in times of uncertainty like divorce, illness, travel, or a pandemic (I never thought I would use that word), so that children understand that some part of their environment is structured when other variables are chaotic or changing.
• Don’t create more stress and pressure on yourself by doing this perfectly or like school environment. Give yourself GRACE.
• Online print outs from Google can be over generalized and unrealistic. You’ll need to customize one for your family! Samples below are examples, but make one for yourself. Use some of the ideas, and do what works for you.
• Be flexible, and allow yourself a week or so to change and adapt it.
• Get a small poster or paper from home and right the schedule and post somewhere in common area and present this to your kids at breakfast.
• Include ME time for you as parent. Include COUPLE time too.
• This can be Fun IF you take a little time to plan it out and create something that works for you and your kids. Let us help you if it's overwhelming or have many sibling to juggle.
Click here for sample schedule for lower elementary ages.
Click here for sample schedule for upper elementary ages.
2. 1:1 Time With your Child
Spending quality uninterrupted time with your child is one of the most important gifts you can give your child each day. This time makes a child feel special and valued, and gives a child self confidence, mastery, and empathy. Read more for some options of activities based in Theraplay that you can adapt and use at home! Have the other parent or older sibling watch the others while you take each child off to another room or bedroom to do their time. Very few materials or toys needed!
Rub lotion on child's arms or hands (no tickles, only pleasant touch)
Slippery Slip—try to hang on to child’s hands or feet while having lotion on them. And say ‘slippery slip’ while doing so. You can be a little silly here.
Make child into a Taco—lay child down on a blanket and explain you are making them into a taco, touch their body to add lettuce, tomato, ground beef, etc. No tickles, only pleasant touch like a massage. Then wrap them up and ‘put them in the oven’. Use firm pressure. And then eat them (this part can be a little silly). Option: Make a cake/cupcake, Pizza, Burger, Sandwhich. Switch it up!
Weather report—Give a weather report on child’s back. Match your touch with the report (i.e light finger touches for rain, fist firm touch for thunder, draw a sun and rub for warmth)
Sing your favorite nursery rhyme, but infuse child’s name into it. Example: “Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder who Jack is, Eyes so brown and cheeks so pink, like an angel on my lap, twinkle twinkle little start how I love just who you are”.
Body Scan Check up: Notice child’s entire body and give kisses or rub a dab of lotion on each little boo boo (even if it’s hardly a little scratch). The point is for child to physically and ‘metaphorically’ feel very cared for. And gives you an opportunity to use grounding touch.
Count child’s freckles. As they age, you’ll notice a few more and it’s fun for them to notice them too. Kiss each one as you go and rub body as you try to find them. Touch is extremely regulating.
Count child’s fingers and toes when they wake up: “make sure they have all 10 fingers and toes”. Exaggerate your excitement that they have 10 toes and 10 fingers. Massage each finger as you go.
Hand Clapping Games (Miss Mary Mack or Sailor went to Sea—youtube them yourself to learn before you teach them if you forgot them!) Keep it simple. The idea is just to be in sync with your child.
Balloon tennis. Keep a balloon in the air together.
Balloon between two bodies. Try to make it across the room together while holding a balloon between your bodies (belly to belly, hip to hip, head to head, neck to neck)
Feather Blow (or cotton ball): Try to compete who can get the item across the table first by blowing it. Each person has 1. Let your child win a few times
Feather Catch: get a feather and 2 sheets of paper. Blow the feather back and forth and keep catching it on your paper.
Noodle toss—Have child pick up a hard pasta noodle with toes and notice how far they can throw it across the room
Wrap child in Toilet paper or crepe paper—And then let them ‘bust out’ of it on your command
Row Row Your Boat—have child sit on lap facing you while you sing and rock together in sync. Option (change speeds fast and slow) Option (replace words “row…down the lake…if you see a jellyfish, don’t forget to shake”) Lake—jellyfish—shake River—polar bear—shiver Shore—lion—roar Stream—Crocodile—Scream Nile—Camel—Smile
Dancing In- have child stand on your toes and dance together to music. Use rhythm and encourage your child to notice fast and slow. Foil Prints—grab some foil sheets and wrap child’s different body parts (elbow, foot, top of head). Let them notice the different molds.
Beep Honk (for young kids 3-5). Say Beep high pitch when you touch their nose and Honk deep voice when you touch their chin. Encourage them to do it to you too, you can make the noise when they touch you if they don’t make the noise themselves.
Hide Notes: Write questions about your child on post its and fold them up (4-6). Hide them on your child’s body, and then find them. Read each one as you find it. Messages can say “what is your favorite color?”, “what is your favorite season?” “What is a happy memory from today?”
Push over, Pull Up: Sit on floor facing child and put palms together. On a signal (like eye wink), have your child push you over. Then stretch hands so he can pull you up. Exaggerate your movements
Magic Carpet Ride—Put child on a beach towel or blanket sitting up. Take the ends and pull them around the house. Enter imaginary land and tell them what you are seeing.
Beanbag game: put a beanbag on your head and have child sit facing you and catch it in their hands on 1-2-3. Take turns doing so. Help your child or hold their hands to allow them to catch it easier.
Newspaper Punch:Take a newspaper sheet and hold it up. Let child punch it only on your count of 1-2-3. Option: tell child to punch when they hear the magic word (i.e dog, clouds, unicorn). Say random words until you say the magic word! Option: When the newspaper is done, crumble it up in a ball. Have child ‘make a basket’ into your arms on your command (1-2-3, or a magic word)
Do Head Shoulder Knees and Toes together.
Do the Hokey Pokey Together. Trace the child’s hand and then color it in together. Notice all the special parts of his/her hand while you trace.
Play Red Light, Green Light. Be on the receiving end so it ends in a big hug.
Mirroring: Sit facing your child and lead the activity and ask child to mirror your actions. Start with you and your child’s palms facing each other and then begin. Don’t make it too complicated. Keep it developmentally appropriate
3. Rules & Consequences
Continue with your normal rules and enforce them with empathy. ALWAYS acknowledge your child's feelings FIRST before you offer limits, choices or consequences.
Post the rules in the kitchen or heavy traffic area. Use about 1 rules per age of child. Use affirmative language rather than the word NO.
Example: We use gentle touch (instead of No hitting)
Now is a great time to start a positive reinforcement sticker chart. Give stickers/stars when you 'catch them doing the right thing' and following the rules. When they earn 5, then reward with a larger prize.
Examples: Toy, extra minutes past bedtime, pick what's for dinner, back massage
Children need pretty immediate gratification, so the younger they are, the quicker they'll need the opportunity to earn 5 stars.
Keep it simple, so you can be consistent with this.
Here are 2 models we teach at Julia's Counseling to enforce choices, rules, and limits.
Call us and set up some sessions if you need help implementing this for your family.
"Birds Fly, Fish Swim, and Children Play" ~ Gary Landreth
"Toys are a child's words, and play is their language" ~ Gary Landreth
Give your child a lot of time throughout the day that is a built in for unstructured play time, which you are present. This means let them lead, follow their imagination, play IN your child's world. Don't try to lead or make the play into your ideas. You can learn so much about your child's inner emotional world by watching and being a witness to their play. This is what we do as Play therapists, and we are happy to set up parent training sessions with you to learn how to access this part of your child's world as well. It is called Filial play Therapy, in which the parent learns how to track and use play therapy language. Let us help you if your child struggles with independent play or if it is hard for you to engage with your child without power struggles or tantrums. We are here for you in these times, because we know it isn't easy.
Anxiety and Worry during a Pandemic, Is it normal?
Everyone is experiencing some sort of worry during this unprecedented time of a pandemic, and that is completely normal. It's important however, that you understand and recognize any signs of unhealthy worrying.
Some signs of toxic worrying may include
Trouble sleeping, falling asleep or staying asleep
Feeling down or not like yourself
An inability to engage in your normal healthy activities of daily life
Ruminating on the same worry throughout the day
An increase in irritability
An overall sense of dread that you cannot shake
In children, you may notice
An increase in defiance
Trouble focusing or staying on task or remembering simple 2-3 step commands
An increase in clingy behaviors, or not wanting to go to another room alone
Wanting to sleep in your bed, or trouble falling asleep at night
Increase in nightmares
Being more fearful of germs or getting sick than normal, and it impacts their ability to enjoy their daily activities
And something that we are seeing a rise in right now is a way of toxic thinking called catastrophizing.
Fast facts on catastrophizing:
Catastrophizing can be a result of or cause of anxiety.
Every person tends to catastrophize from time to time.
A mental health professional can help address catastrophic thinking.
Catastrophizing is a way of thinking called a ‘cognitive distortion.’ A person who catastrophizes usually sees an unfavorable outcome to an event and then decides that if this outcome does happen, the results will be a disaster.
Here are some examples of catastrophizing, especially as it may relate to COVID19:
“If I go to the grocery store, I might get COVID and die."
“If my kids don't get to go to school the rest of the year, they may be traumatized and think they are failures"
“If my parents don't social distance they may get coronavirus and go to ICU and I won't be able to visit them and they'll think I don't love them"
Mental health professionals also call catastrophizing “magnifying,” because a person makes a situation seem much worse, dire, or severe than it is. Catastrophizing can lead to depression in some individuals. Fortunately, there are several methods to address the condition and avoid catastrophizing. Let us help you with some teletherapy to get you over this hump if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
Mental health experts often use techniques known as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to help a person address their catastrophic thinking. These techniques require the person to be aware that they are experiencing catastrophic thinking, to recognize their actions, and to try to stop and correct their irrational thinking. Six tips to accomplish this include remembering and making use of the following techniques. These can help to manage the condition:
Acknowledging that unpleasant things happen: Life is full of challenges as well as good and bad days. Just because one day is bad does not mean all days will be bad.
Recognizing when thoughts are irrational: Catastrophizing often follows a distinct pattern. A person will start with a thought, such as “I am hurting today.” They will then expand on the thought with worry and anxiety, such as, “The pain is only going to get worse,” or “This hurting means I’ll never get better.” When a person learns to recognize these thoughts, they are better equipped to handle them.
Saying “stop!”: To cease the repetitive, catastrophic thoughts, a person may have to say out loud or in their head “stop!” or “no more!” These words can keep the stream of thoughts from continuing and help a person change the course of their thinking.
Thinking about another outcome: Instead of thinking about a negative outcome, consider a positive one or even a less-negative option.
Offering positive affirmations: When it comes to catastrophic thinking, a person has to believe in themselves and that they can overcome their tendency to fear the worst. They may wish to repeat a positive affirmation to themselves on a daily basis.
Practicing excellent self-care: Catastrophic thoughts are more likely to take over when a person is tired and stressed. Getting enough rest and engaging in stress-relieving techniques, such as exercise, meditation, and journaling, can all help a person feel better.
Enroll in a Support Group at Julia's Counseling
Stay connected through 'social distancing' and stay at home orders. Enroll today in one of our teletherapy groups. A licensed therapist will guide you through sharing, connecting, and learning some skills with a maximum of 6 other people. These groups are ongoing and you can join at any time, although it is recommended that you commit for a minimum of 1 month so that you can be able to form therapeutic relationships with group members.
Call or email us today to ask questions or sign up to begin a group. We are happy to answer any questions you may have.
(832)303-8933 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated daily, please check back periodically for updated resources
For Kids and Parents:
Free Book about school closure due to COVID around the world
Free E Book explaining COVID-19, By Ana Gomez
Free Coloring Book explaining how to cope with feeling anxious with COVID-19, by Camelford, K., Vaughn, K., & Dugan, E.
Coronavirus- A short guide for children. An E Book for printout or tablet. by Fernando Gonzales III, LCSW.
The National Emergency Library has made 1.5 million books free to read right now, including training and general knowledge.
Click here for a ton of printouts for parents (chore charts, lists, kid contracts) to help keep you organized and structured https://www.pricelessparenting.com/chart-for-kids
For Grown Kids and Grown Ups:
Mental health resources and information--From Mental Health America, it's updated daily
Who Do I Choose To Be During COVID-19- A printout for your fridge or home.
Julia's Counseling YouTube Page
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