We know that many families are going through difficult times on so many levels and everyone is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in different ways.
Our Explore & Develop services are doing their best to support families by keeping the doors open to families that still require education and care at this time and many have been maintaining connections with families through online platforms.
However, we know that not all families can attend our services at this time, so for this newsletter we wanted to be able to provide all families with some really great advice on things that they can be doing to help support their child or children to cope during this unprecedented time. Our very good friend, Dr Justin Coulson, has kindly written an article about what every child needs right now. I hope that you find Dr Coulson’s advice useful and that you and your family are ok at this time ?
Chief Executive Officer
We’re living in unprecedented times. Most offices are shut, streets are increasingly empty, and many people around the world have been commanded to lock themselves away, while others are doing so voluntarily. The uncertainty that we are grappling with is challenging enough for us as adults: but it’s also hard on our children. how do we explain the new reality to our kids?
These are four things that every child needs right now, not just to feel safe, but to feel understood.
The reality is that our kids don’t need to know too much right now. Too much news will cause anxiety. But by now most of them know something’s up.
So don’t try to fix things. Don’t try to make it all better. Just listen. The word I like to use to help children feel heard is Explore!
When we explore, we give our children the opportunity to be heard. We lean in to their challenges, grievances and fears. We get curious, not furious.
We do this by saying, “You seem to be really challenged by being stuck inside huh? It’s a really rough time.” Or perhaps, “You really hate the way we’re being to we can’t do what we want to do. It feels rotten.”
Our focus is on understanding rather than reprimanding. Once our children feel heard, they tend to be calmer.
Laughter is the best medicine. Dozens of research studies emphasize that humour – even gallows humour, the morbid kind – reduces stress and anxiety. Physiologically, humour stimulates our organs and reduces tension and stress. It boosts our immune system and relieves pain.
Psychologically it drops anxiety and alleviates depressed mood. It lessens stress. And humour makes our social interactions stronger. And coronaviurs, isolation, and a lack of toilet paper are givings us a lot to laugh about if we don’t take life too seriously (except when we have to, of course).
One of the most concerning aspects of the pandemic and lockdown is the feelings of helplessness that we all feel; especially our children. But when our children help others, they feel empowered. They feel like they have agency. They sense that they can exert some control over their lives. This is a powerful antidote to anxiety and depression.
So let them help. Can you drop a meal off to someone more at risk? Can you deliver toilet paper to the elderly in your neighbourhood like so many children in neighbourhoods around the country? Is there an acquaintance that is feeling lonely that could use a phone call?
For many of us, this is a frightening time. Economically, it’s a breathtakingly brutal time. Jobs are being lost. Industries are closing. The dollar is tanking. And then there is the incalculable cost of people dying.
In spite of this, it is also a remarkably hopeful time. Right now, changes are happening that will make the world a better place. People are developing disruptive technology that will ultimately improve how we live on this planet. Right now, tens of thousands of people are working on solutions that will revolutionise some parts of how we live.
How will we respond? How can we share that with our children? Can we show our kids that even if our business crumbles, we won’t? can we be resilient enough to stop asking “why me?” when things go wrong, and instead stand tall and say “try me?”.
These choices matter. Let’s stand tall, have hope, and set a resilient example for our children.
Remember that though a lot of things have been cancelled, life hasn’t.
Dr Justin Coulson
Dr John Coulson, https://www.happyfamilies.com.au