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Being with your Child in times of crisis

By Amy Shirley

Lockdown can be an incredibly difficult and stressful time for both you and your children. There are enormous feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability around. While you may find yourself dealing with big emotions, so may your children. Just like adults, children are unique and all respond to stress differently. This can be based on their age, temperament, previous experiences, and resilience.

Children often show us how they are feeling, because they often don’t have the words to describe what they are experiencing.

How can I tell my child is experiencing big emotions? Often this can be seen by emotional or behavioural changes.

Possibilities are if your child:

  • Is experiencing unusual emotional outbursts or moodiness

  • Angers or becomes irritable quickly

  • Becomes clingy and finds it difficult to be separated from you

  • Expresses excessive fear or withdrawal

  • Changes in sleeping or feeding patterns.

  • Is complaining of bodily symptoms such as a sore stomach or headaches.

How can I help my child during this time?

  • Don’t dismiss your child’s worries or fears as silly. Or try to push them into a happier place than they may be at in the moment. Children feel heard when a parent is able to sit with them in their feelings and empathise, rather than trying to quickly ‘make it better’.

  • It is our job to help our children feel loved and safe during this time. When speaking to your children about the corona virus and what is happening, try to use easy language that is appropriate for their age, look for signs of anxiety or distress in your children, and watch for their reactions as you speak. Allow them to share with you about how they are feeling.

  • Try to create a reliable and somewhat consistent routine at home. This creates a sense of predictability and containment for your children.

  • It is also a chance to spend one-on-one time with your children. Spend time singing, dancing, doing chores together, or reading together. This can be a chance to build close relationships with your children and to show them they are special to you! Special time with parents allow children to feel important and safe.

  • When your child appears happy, distressed, cross, speak to them about it. "I see that you are very happy right now, your smile is so big!" “I know that you are overwhelmed right now, I’m going to sit here with you until you feel better”. We can teach our children about feelings by putting words to what they are going through. This can help them understand and express what they are feeling in more appropriate ways.

  • During this time, take care of yourself! Children can pick up on your feelings, so it helps them to know you feel calm and in control. If you are feeling worried or upset, speak to family or friends, or reach out to a professional.

If you would like more information or resources, please got to the Ububele Facebook page. There is also a dedicated WhatsApp number, where you can get assistance and support from Ububele during this time - 079 407 5461

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