This extended break can have important implications for our children, young and old. This is recently confirmed by a UN report.
If we observe carefully, we realize that this situation is also very stressful for them. We talk a lot about the stress of parents and remote workers these days. At first glance, one might have thought that our children would be comfortable with lockdown and they would experience lockdown as a vacation. "Yuppie! no school today! " However, it is not the case. Snowstorm syndrome does not apply here.
Does your child experience stress?
We must learn to properly identify the manifestations of stress in our child. Recognizing behavioral changes in our children is important. Here are the behaviors to watch for:
- cry more often;
- thumb sucking;
- hang on to mom or dad;
- complaining of stomach or headache;
- isolate themselves from the rest of the family;
- have appetite problems;
- have trouble sleeping;
- to be irritable;
- to be angry;
- getting more agitated than usual
The reactions will be different for each child. Many of these behaviors are normal, but the watchword remains to question oneself when one notices a change in these behaviors. Do I see more of these behaviors? Do I see new ones? Are old behaviors starting again?
In my case, I was able to identify at least one event per child. Leo, 8 years old, needs a lot of hugs and we can reassure him on questions heard in the media (masks, deaths, other viruses, quarantine, lockdown, etc.). Alex, 12, wants to spend time with me to teach me how to play a video game that he knows well (he feels in control and it's good for his self-esteem!).
Intervening without dramatizing
It is important not to dramatize. The crisis we are experiencing at the moment is an extraordinary crisis. Also, children's reactions are mostly ordinary reactions to an extraordinary situation. So, before intervening, help your child with simple gestures. For example, spending more time with your child in a positive activity that he enjoys, playing hide-and-seek, watching a comedy show (for us, it's the series Science of Stupidity), read and act out a funny story, etc. A little more attention can have an amazing effect!
Then, avoid punishing your child for these behaviors. Caring and compassion are important in these difficult times. It applies to our children and it also applies to us. Let us focus on positive behaviors and less on negative behaviors: let's say well done for the good moves, ignore the bad moves.
Cuddle up on the couch! What could be better than watching your child's favorite movie? We can even integrate some of these moments into our routines. This is what I did with the hour of play with Alex. I don’t know why but he really loves playing with me. Speaking of routine, I don't dwell too much on this. We have already talked about it a lot: a stable routine without being too strict allows the child to have a good feeling of control of his environment. It makes the day a little more predictable and therefore reduces the child's stress and anxiety.
Finally, take the time to discuss the situation with your child. Ask them how they feel. If they tell you that they are missing their friends or teacher, tell them that you too are missing colleagues or your sister. Making your child understand that these emotions are normal under the circumstances is important. Once you've done all of this, it's time to take care of yourself. Personal time, if you can get, with a good book, a TV series, a good album, an activity with a little detachment, it feels good!