Being a parent through the COVID-19 pandemic can be a challenge. It can be hard to know how to keep your kids busy, how to teach them at home, how to talk to them about what is going on, and so many other things. One thing that you may be struggling with is how to deal with your child’s emotions about COVID-19 and everything that is going on.
At Yellow Brick Road Early Childhood Development Center, we know that being a parent and trying to figure this out on your own can feel impossible. That is why we wanted to help! In this blog, we are going to talk about some of the different signs to look for that may give you a clue as to what your child is feeling, as well as how you can support those feelings.
Read on to learn more and be sure to contact us with any questions you may have!
How Kids Show Emotions
Many children, from 18 months to 18 years old, may have trouble expressing how they feel. Younger children especially can’t simply say “I’m stressed” or “I feel anxious about this.” Because children are unable to say exactly how they feel, you may notice it in different actions. It is common for children, young and old, to show stress and anxiety with irritability, defiance, clinginess, and regression.
Regression is one of the main signs that your children might be displaying that tell you they are feeling stress and anxiety. In your younger children, such as three, four, and five years olds, you may see them revert back to being a baby. What this will look like is them using baby talk, crying more, asking for a bottle, and more. This is common because to them, that was a time when they felt comforted and felt different than what they may be feeling now.
It is important for parents to realize that all children develop in bursts and regressions. This means that as they work on one skill, they will begin to master it. As they master that skill, they may regress in another skill that they previously learned. This is because the brain is focusing on building synapses in one cluster for the new skill, they may let go of synapses in another cluster for another skill. It is common for children who are learning to tie their shoes to start having accidents again. Eventually, your child’s development will even out with them regaining all of their skills.
While these phases of bursts and regression are normal throughout your child’s development, the regression is also common when they are feeling stressed or anxious. If you begin to notice those behaviors again, it is important to realize that your child may be feeling emotions that they can’t express.
How To Support Children’s Emotions
If and when your child begins to show these signs of emotion through regression, irritability, defiance, or clinginess, it is important as a parent to share your calm with them. While this can be hard, especially with the added stresses of the pandemic, when you show your child even more stress, they will feel that emotion too.
Try to remember that this is your child trying to express their emotions without being able to do so with their words. Understanding and talking about emotions is difficult, even for adults, so make sure that you are aware that your child may be feeling the same things as you and showing them in different ways.
While you may be trying to shield your children from everything going on in the world, they are likely to feel stress because it is all around them. It is likely that you are feeling stress, they may notice stress in people around them, and so they are likely to feel that as well.
Understanding how to properly support your child during this time may be a challenge. But we can offer up a few tips.
Keep Your Boundaries
Just because everyone is feeling stressed and your child is showing signs of stress or anxiety, there is no reason you should dismiss your boundaries. Don’t allow your child to have dessert before dinner just because they are throwing a tantrum. Tell them that you understand how they are feeling and that you are there to help them through it but stick to the boundaries you set.
You can tell your child that if they need to throw a tantrum to let their emotions out, then they can do so in their room. This can teach them to take time to think about how they feel and cry or punch their pillow until they feel better. While this may not always be an option, sometimes this is a great way to help them realize how to deal with their feelings and move on. It is important that they know that just because a pandemic is happening doesn’t mean they get their way and your rules no longer matter.
Ultimately, you need to be there to give them hugs and kisses and tell them it will be okay and that you understand how they feel. You can tell them that you notice they feel stressed or anxious, helping them label their emotions. This is another great way to help them understand what they are feeling and how they can deal with those feelings in the future. When you label their emotions and ask them what they need to feel better you can help them understand their emotions and help them through this strange time.
If you have any more questions about how to support your child’s emotions throughout the pandemic, be sure to contact Yellow Brick Road Early Childhood Development Center today!