I have found the last week incredibly challenging as people have spoken about their fear and anxiety about the possibility of another lockdown. It’s not the fear and anxiety that is difficult but the speculation and discussion based on rumours that they have read online. I have done a blog about anxiety and resources that can help you. https://www.survivingyourchildhood.com/post/anxiety-vs-worry
Anxiety may present as fear or worry, but can also make us irritable and angry. Please remember that the way you respond effects the people around you.
In my experience working with children I see some very distinct differences in the anxiety they exhibit. Both are equally real and need loving adults to support them.
This first one I am calling Anxiety Possibles. Children who worry about the possibility of up-coming events, and when I’ve watched adult’s reactions to this it doesn’t surprise me.
These can be things like:
Being very afraid when away from parents (separation anxiety)
Having extreme fear about a specific thing or situation, such as dogs, insects, or going to the doctor (phobias)
Being very afraid of school and other places where there are people (social anxiety)
Being very worried about the future and about bad things happening (general anxiety)
The next one I call is Anxiety Probables. And this is when children are waiting for when these events happen not if they happen
These can be things like:
· Will mum and dad fight again tonight?
· Will I get breakfast/lunch/tea tomorrow?
· Will adults be drinking or taking drugs at my house?
· Will I be able to get to school tomorrow?
· Is someone in my house going to get angry and hit me or someone else in my home?
As you can see the probables are extremely worrying as these children do not feel safe in their own homes. The possibles are worrying about events that may not ever happen. That doesn’t mean that they are not genuine concerns for that child- because they are. However, we really need the adults around them to acknowledge these anxieties but give them strategies to move forward.
Bu how can our children not get anxious when we display behaviours that re-inforce their understanding?
These are thigs like:
· Panic shopping- something only people of privilege can do as they are not on a very limited income
· Putting down the families who have contacted Covid 19 and blaming them
· Spreading rumours and speculating about what might or might not happen
· Listening to negativity from press and social media.
What can we do to help reduce anxiety
Be kind to others!! This is the message we hear every time there is an announcement from our PM. Best advice any of us can take right now.
Trust our leaders: If you want information the most obvious source of information comes from our PM, Minister of Health and the website created for us! https://covid19.govt.nz/
Model good practice: Wash your hands, cough into your elbow, wear a mask
Know where and how to get treatment and other support services and resources, including counselling or therapy (we have online services for those who can’t manage the expense). https://covid19.govt.nz/health-and-wellbeing/mental-wellbeing/ https://depression.org.nz/
Take care of your emotional health. Taking care of your emotional health will help you think clearly and react to the urgent needs to protect yourself and your family.
Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, and use meditation. Lots of apps out there to support this for you and your children (Calm, Stop, Brathe Think kids, HeadSpace)
Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
Get plenty of sleep.
Avoid excessive alcohol and drug use.
Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
Connect with others.Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Connect with your community: While social distancing measures are in place, consider connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.
Maybe for older children you can help talk them through their anxieties with a Helpful/Unhelpful thought process chart. I have attached one I have created below.
Or this is a great resource by Russ Harris and put out by WHO.
And remember this is a new experience for all of us and we are all in it together. Be kind