Helping Our Children Cope

Do you have children in your life right now?

A child? Grandchild? Godchild? Niece? Nephew? Or some alternative?

How are they doing?

Do you know?

Do you really know?

What’s going on inside their heads? In their hearts?

Are you helping these children in your life cope?

These turbulent times are difficult for even the most mature among us. Our daily routines have been ripped out from under us; from under our children. New routines are being forced upon us; forced upon our children.

A child's lost dirty, wet and bedraggled blue and white stuffed animal face down on cobblestone.
Photo Credit: Trym Nilsen

Reports of illness, death and economic crisis are everywhere. Even young toddlers, who are generally sheltered from such things, know that there’s no more daycare or play dates until the germs have gone bye-bye. Fear, stress and anxiety hover over our homes. Our kids are not immune. In fact, they are the most vulnerable. We need to be helping our children cope.

We need to be vigilant.

Yes, kids are so often wise beyond their years. 

Yes, kids can be so resilient.

And they hurt. They struggle. And they don’t yet have the skill set or tools to manage the intense range of  feelings the pandemic has brought into their lives. There is grief, anger, frustration, anxiety and despair. At the heart is loss:

Loss of friends and family

Loss of school and sports

Loss of safety and control

Sad young girl crying. Her shirt says happy, but is wet with tears. Noone is helping her cope.
Photo Credit: Arwan Sutano

Some kids will tell you how they are feeling by the way they play with their stuffed animals. Some kids will show you their frustrations as they pick fights with their siblings or even you. Others will hold it in and say they are fine. But they aren’t bouncing out of bed like usual. They keep their curtains shut and don’t go outside anymore. They have lost their appetite or interest in books and video games.

Our kids are not okay.

They need our help. They need our attention. They need our compassion.

Our kids need you to tell them over and over:

I see you.

I hear you.

I am here for you.

An African American Mother is helping her child cope by giving her a big hug.
Photo Credit: Eye for Ebony

When you talk to them, be as physically close to them as appropriate. Hug them. Hold their hand. Stroke their back. Help them to feel your presence. Ask pointed questions and listen closely to the answers.

How do you feel? 

What is hard for you right now?

What can I do for you today?

Our children need us to see their pain and hold it for them. Our children need us to pull them out of the darkness and back into the light. They need us to help them smile and laugh again. They need us to remind them it’s okay to play.

Young mother helping her child cope by playfully throwing child up in the air. The child is smiling and laughing.
Photo Credit: Thiago Cerquiera

Tell a joke.

Get into a board game with them.

Go outside and play ball.

Our children can’t make it through this alone. None of us can. We all need each other.

So, how can you dive deeper into helping our children cope today?

What child will you hold a little closer? 

What child will you listen to more deeply?

May it be so!

Multi-color plastic monkeys playfully hooked arm in arm much like we need to be helping our children cope!
Photo by: Park Troopers

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