As more of us receive our COVID-19 vaccines, businesses begin to open to full capacity and we get back to group activities it can be a stressful for all of us. But for our children, it can be even more difficult as they experience groups of people, team play and other events for the first time in more than a year.
We spoke to Tara Jogee, a Stamford-based Licensed Professional Counselor who works with children and adolescents who is sharing three ways to help children cope with the adjustment.
Talk to your kids about what anxiety feels like
Anxiety is normal to feel right now, and it’s important for our kids to know that. Educate your child on what anxiety looks like and how they might experience it (excessive worry, stomach aches, heart racing, etc.) This will help them understand what they may be feeling, and “name it to tame it”. Some kids may not know that what they are feeling is anxiety.
Anxiety is a natural response when you feel unsafe. That being said, when reintroducing team play, review what new safety measures have been set in place with your child. Let them know that they are returning now because it is safe to do so. Parents can acknowledge that sports may look different than how they’ve played in previous years. This will help to validate what they are feeling and why they may be feeling that way. Those changes themselves can be a trigger for anxiety, but again reassure your child that it looks different because it is in effort to keep everyone safe.
Encourage your child to take a few deep breaths in. This will activate the parasympathetic nervous system and will help to slow down the body’s natural response to anxiety. Square Breath is a breathing technique that is beneficial for anxiety. Breathe in for four seconds, hold the inhale for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, hold the exhale for four seconds.