Tips For Helping Children Manage Emotions in Difficult Times
As we all know by now, there is a lot happening in the world these past few months — and especially these last few weeks. COVID-19 is still present in the media, as is the recent death of George Floyd and nationwide protests calling for justice and racial equality. With everything going on, kids may be feeling stressed, confused, or sad, and parents may be feeling unsure about how to approach these topics with them. Below are some helpful PBS resources on how to help your kids manage their emotions during tough times.
Empathy is an extremely important skill for kids to build upon in order to understand their own feelings, as well as those of others! Kids who practice empathy are able to recognize what other people are thinking or feeling and are then able to respond with care and compassion. Fortunately, there are a bunch of great resources you can share with your kids at this time to help them develop and understand empathy. For example, books about diversity and books that encourage kindness to others.
It may be hard to grapple with how to talk about current events with your kids, and it’s okay to turn off the TV sometimes, but the solution isn’t to just pretend none of it is happening or attempt to shelter them. They’re still watching you respond to events and peeking over your shoulder to see headlines, social media posts, and news alerts. They may have questions, and it’s important to know how to address them.
It is also okay to just let your kids play. Mr. Rogers himself said, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.” When children experience stress and adversity, play becomes more important than ever to helping them cope and work through what they may be feeling. So, let them play!
This is an easy craft to do with your kids. You just need some crayons and paper! Then have your kids start to draw faces with different emotions. It can sometimes be hard for your kids to make connections between what they’re feeling and the emotions that they’re displaying. Having them make this chart helps them express these feelings and shows them faces in different states of emotion. In tough moments, it can help children explain to you how they feel when they can’t find the words!
It’s important to communicate with your kids about their feelings and validate them— now more than ever!