Helping your children process COVID-19 emotions.
April 28, 2020 8:08 PM   Subscribe

Helping children express, understand and grow from their emotions during Covid-19 is a skill that will last into their adult lives. This article has some great tips for helping parents and children work through feelings around the virus.
posted by smoke (11 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I could see doing some classic Dada cut-up stuff with kids could be interesting now. Everyone gets one page of a magazine or newspaper, gets to cut out words, they all go into a bag and get mixed up, everyone pulls out a group of slips and then arranges them into phrases. Discussion might result. (Bowie used to use this to help with his lyrics at times.)

Also poetry in general. Reading it, writing it, using first lines for springboards... spending 20 minutes writing a poem can be intensely therapeutic.

Diary keeping too. I went through a horrible break-up in my early 20s and I would get to my work early (this was a long time ago) and put my private little floppy into the Mac and would type like mad until people arrived and I had to stop. I never read any of it, but just the act of the expression of everything in a stream of consciousness knowing I'd carry it with me and nobody would ever see it... I dunno. Maybe kids also need that somehow right now, too? The 30-years-later version somehow.

Small sidebar: what resources are there for housebound kids to be getting refreshes of books these days? I was ravenous for books for many years of my school age and libraries were my temples. Seems like that is equally important for understanding and growing from emotions in a time like this.
posted by hippybear at 8:36 PM on April 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

what resources are there for housebound kids to be getting refreshes of books these days?

My kid has an e-reader and goes through books like crazy. I wish every kid had this amazing resource.
posted by The Toad at 9:06 PM on April 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

This is good. I have a friend that has twins. She has been telling them for years that if they want to complain to her(mostly about the injustice of the other twin), that they must do it while dancing. I've managed to do it a few times with my wee chickens, but now seems like a good time to re-insitute it at ours. Will create a grievance dance Spotify list now. Thanks smokeydoke! xxx
posted by taff at 9:40 PM on April 28, 2020 [10 favorites]

Seattle Public Library is an amazing resource for checking out e-books. The most surprising thing about the quarantine is that the kids have become readers.

My son has started rapping over Garage Band beats.

Both of his parents have been involved in setting up drive through COVID19 testing facilities and then he rode in the back seat while I had to go and get tested at one when I started having symptoms. He built his own LEGO drive through COVID19 testing facility and hospital. I am very concerned that the LEGO minifigures in that bedroom are not maintaining appropriate social distancing precautions. Particularly in light of the serious shortage of LEGO ventilators.

In summary, 11 is a weird age and we are all going a bit crazy here.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:03 PM on April 28, 2020 [6 favorites]

On the one hand, this is a difficult time and this appears to be important guidance. On the other hand, my reaction to advice like "Have them look up the full range of different emotions, define each emotion, put it into a sentence and write about how that emotion might show itself during family lockdown. You can add an art lesson to this by having your child draw or paint each emotion." is the same as my reaction to the thousands of other bits of advice parents are being bombarded with: You can go fuck yourself.

At the end of the day, if our kids are fed, somewhat clean, mostly uninjured, and only mildly emotionally traumatized, and spent less than 6-8 hours watching cartoons and video games, we're claiming victory.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:11 AM on April 29, 2020 [13 favorites]

Deutsche Welle: Children suffer most from being locked down.

I'm worried if I keep sitting down and having Serious Talks with my 6yo son about Coronavirus I'm just going to traumatize him more. At the moment he seems to just take a lot if it for granted: as far as he knows it's just something that happens.

He was crying the other day about missing his friends though. As an only child it's tough to go for weeks and months without playing with another kid, or talking to another kid except on Zoom.

As the article says though, nobody seems to care much about the emotional and educational impact on kids. They're just seen as horrible disease vectors, even though there isn't much evidence for it.

And as Mr.Know-it-some says, all these expectations are a pain. I have a job in healthcare-related IT so I'm working from home, busier than ever. Plus we have a school schedule that's supposed to take half of every weekday (I do my share over the weekends so I can do my actual job). So I'm supposed to do a full-time job, spend half the day cajoling and bullying him into doing phonics and maths, and also be a perfectly even-tempered emotional nurturer.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:55 AM on April 29, 2020 [5 favorites]

As the article says though, nobody seems to care much about the emotional and educational impact on kids.

This must depend on what & where you're reading. I've seen lots of articles and letters to advice columnists concerned about what effects this is having on kids, both short-term and long-term.
posted by Lexica at 10:00 AM on April 29, 2020 [3 favorites]

As the article says though, nobody seems to care much about the emotional and educational impact on kids.

If this is true in your area, I am genuinely sorry for you. In mine, I've been very impressed at how my kids' teachers have reached out each week and assigned work to them (age appropriately; I have one in grade 3 and one in grade 9) to help give them room to express their experience. I also get mental health resources and information emailed to me from:

- the teachers
- the principal
- the school board
- our trustee
- our city councillor

on what feels like a daily basis, but probably isn't individually.

The homeschooling parts make me want to cry in frustration and rage but the teachers' care for my children's wellbeing and mental health makes me want to cry in gladness.

Professionally, I'm laid off but my organization has some instructors delivering online classes and talking about mental health while getting the kids to move their bodies (martial arts), at no cost (memberships are on hold). They very much care and are communicating to parents if a child says something in a class that needs follow up.

E-books are coming in from our library daily and we also have a bit of a neighbourhood swap going on where we wiped down put books in boxes on our porches for 3 days, and then people come get them after that point.
posted by warriorqueen at 12:14 PM on April 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

I want to add - I don't think any of us adults have it right here, but it's not for lack of trying. This is and will be traumatic, and our communities are going to be carrying a big trauma load at a time that we will be dealing with the economic blow back. I am not saying it's simple. I'm saying let's stay aware and help each other out.
posted by warriorqueen at 12:15 PM on April 29, 2020

Pixar's "Inside Out" feels very relevant.

The movie is fantastic at illustrating what happens when we disconnect from our feelings, even uncomfortable ones, and how important it is not to invalidate the way someone feels. Especially during times of change and uncertainty.

It's a beautiful movie.
posted by kmartino at 4:06 PM on April 29, 2020

My nine year old and I had a long conversation about grief, and how you don’t just feel it if someone dies, you feel it when your hopes and plans are ruined through no fault of your own, you feel it when your normal life is taken from you thanks to something huge, and you feel it when you feel cut off from the places and things and people that help you feel most like yourself.

She still melts down every other day or so, but it’s been so helpful to her to be able to put a name to why she’s so sad and angry. She’ll sob, “I’m grieving! [Specific thing] is what was taken from me and I’m sad about it today!” ... and being able to name that really helps her get a handle on it and self-soothe in about ten minutes.

We also talk a lot about the emotional skills she already has and every day, I make a point to find some way to tell her, “I noticed you did [X] today - that was really resilient/tenacious/creative behavior.” I feel like trying to give her a story about emotional competence is the best thing I can do in this situation. This way she doesn’t see herself and her life as being solely about the mourning she’s doing — she also sees the grief as part of a bigger life she has.
posted by sobell at 6:48 PM on April 29, 2020 [5 favorites]

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