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Has your family had lots of questions about the most recent
corona virus pandemic? If you follow the news stations, they will provide
information around the clock. We don’t all interpret what we are hearing in the
same way, so having honest conversations, at the level that individual family
members can understand is important.
The most important message we can provide is that as a
family, we will do everything we can to stay safe, including hand washing and
sanitizing all surfaces we touch on a regular basis. We can practice social
distancing and we can reach out to our neighbors by phone or our friends by
As we grow, we all learn to navigate our emotions and experiences in different ways. We know that children will watch their parents and siblings for ways to respond. Adults who can practice empathy and show positive coping skills will be encouraging to family members also feeling stress.
Children may need to have a list of appropriate responses
that they can choose because one of the many needs a young person has while
growing up is independence. Being able to choose from a list of suggested
coping techniques can be very helpful. For example, could we do some yoga or
deep breathing exercises? Could we get out the art supplies and do some
creative art? Maybe we are piano players or have music that we can turn to as a
calming coping mechanism.
Older children may need to get more physical exercise, an
outdoor run or a walk in nature may be a great idea. Other children may enjoy
journaling their feelings, special journal paper, pens or a book is a great way
to encourage getting the feelings onto paper.
Another family activity can be found in the kitchen. Find a
recipe that could become part of the family meal and together, practice some
math and science skills as you create a delicious meal together. Check out our
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Spend Smart Eat Smart
website for recipe ideas and helpful cooking videos!
If down time is needed, suggest a rest period. Our body
needs eight or more hours of sleep each evening to perform at our best. When we
are overwhelmed with anxiety, frustration, disappointment or plan stress, we don’t
sleep well and that too can impact how we feel and react throughout the day.
We are all in this together and caring for one another and modeling good coping skills is up to each of us! More coping information can be found on the CDC’s web page, “Stress and Coping.”