The changes brought about by COVID-19, including quarantine, social distancing, school closures, parents working from home, and other disruptions to routine can be especially hard for young children to deal with. It’s difficult for children to grasp the concept of a pandemic, and your child may be dealing with fear, confusion, boredom, and other emotions without knowing how to express them appropriately. Try these 3 simple ways to help young children manage their emotions during COVID-19.
It can be frustrating when your child acts out, but realize that he or she may just be bored or not sure how to behave in this new situation. Rather than punishing misbehavior, try first to simply redirect it into something more positive. You may find that providing an outlet for emotions dramatically decreases your child’s misbehavior.
Creative play is an excellent outlet for young children to manage their emotions. Have them draw a picture to send to a friend from school, create a space on the fridge for their artwork depicting ways your family is staying safe, or help them make up a handwashing song they can sing while they practice good sanitation measures.
Focus on the Positive
Focus your own and your child’s attention on the good things by making sure to praise their successes, efforts, and positive behaviors. Try to be specific to reinforce good behaviors and positive ways to manage emotion. For example, “I loved how you drew such a beautiful picture for me while I was on the phone,” or “Thank you for using your words to tell me how you feel.”
By redirecting when things go wrong, praising when things go right, and helping your child find creative ways to express themselves, you can help even your youngest children cope with their feelings in healthy ways during this emotionally challenging time.