Let’s get real: despite what some social media posts would have us believe, this isn’t a magically wonderful time for any family.
As anxiety levels sky-rocket the world over, and as we each deal with our own personal crises caused by the Covid-19 virus, how can we make sure we’re making space for our smaller kids to also process the huge changes all around them?
- Make space for sadness
In my opinion, there are a few things that are way worse than feeling negative emotions.
The first is believing that negative feelings – feelings of sadness, anxiety, fear, or anger are intrinsically bad. But feeling bad doesn’t mean we’ve done something bad. It’s not right to feel happy and wrong to feel sad.
Just like a beautiful sunrise is only breathtaking because it has the darkness as a backdrop, so too do our negative emotions give depth and meaning to our positive ones.
We need both. And we need to acknowledge and make space for both – in us and in our children. Under this point, it’s good to also own up to the fact that a lot of your own anxiety (no matter how well you think you’ve hidden it from your kids) will have filtered through.
That’s okay. Just make space to acknowledge this and secondly:
- Talk about it
Another thing that’s worse than feeling negative emotions is not having a label for them.
Not being able to clearly articulate how you feel means these emotions sit unresolved – just lying there like a heap of unsorted laundry – on the floor of your subconscious. So, let’s start by giving our kids (and ourselves) the words to describe how we feel.
We should all be able to say when we’re feeling sad, angry, lonely, worried, disappointed, terrified, heartbroken, angry, frustrated, or simply restless.
These aren’t just labels – if used correctly and at the right time to describe how we really feel – they can serve as a powerful means to resolve these feelings – to shake them out, fold them neatly and put them in the correct place as it were.
Still, it’s not enough to just be able to articulate these feelings to ourselves. A wise proverb says that “a worry shared is a worry halved.”
In this time, when negative emotions are bound to bubble up in us and our kids, let’s make sure we’re listening twice as much as we’re offering advice or speaking.
Don’t tell your kids that what they’re feeling is silly or wrong or unsubstantiated. Don’t compare their little worries to your big ones – and in so doing belittle them. Rather, let’s make some safe space to hear how our kids are really feeling and to let them know that whatever it is – it’s okay.
- Don’t just talk about emotions, talk about masks!
During the early days of this lockdown, I had the misfortune of having to take some of my kids out of the house – it was a medical necessity. Making our way through some passages to the medical facility though, we passed a lot of people wearing masks and I happened to look back at my child’s face.
The look on that face nearly broke me – their eyes were so wide and in that instant, I realised how scary this must be for them – entering a foreign world where now everybody’s face is covered.
Where instead of smiling faces, just eyes stared back at them, and where hand sanitisers are more abundant than high fives. Rather than just expecting our kids to deal with this new norm – let’s prepare them as best we can. Let them know that we’re all wearing masks because we really care for one another and don’t want to spread any bad germs.
Tell them that although they can’t see other people’s whole faces, they can bet that most people are smiling underneath those masks – because they’re people who love strangers enough to go out of their way for them.
Let them know that although we’re not allowed to high five or hug others at the moment, when we see people we know, we can give them a big thumbs up, so that they know we’re all in this together.Shout out to the kids
Whether it be asking for advice or sharing a great tip that helped you – we want to hear from you MUMS. Comment below and share your thoughts.