Divorce is enough to cause anxiety. Add in a pandemic and it’s worse. The first step is listen to your children as anxiety in a child does not necessarily present itself as it would in an adult. Your child may have just been getting used to the idea of your divorce when all of the sudden we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. A child’s anxiety can take on many forms, including stomach aches, nightmares, and misbehaving. If your child appears anxious, ask him or her about it – whether it’s the divorce or COVID-19. Ignoring the issue can backfire and make it seem even scarier to the child. By addressing it, you will likely ease some of your child’s anxiety.
Covid-19 and what we do not know about it can prove to be scarier than what we do know. Do not over share, or for that matter under share, with your children. Be very thoughtful regarding the information that you provide to your children. Some children may find more information will ease their anxiety, while others may be overwhelmed by it. Every child is different so be sensitive to your child’s feelings. Try not to speak in front of the children to others regarding Covid-19, and do not allow the virus talk to take over your whole day. Find a time to discuss it with your children and then do not talk about it anymore the rest of the day.
Children are very keen and know more than you think they know. You may have thought that the breakdown of your marriage was a secret to them and then were surprised to find out they suspected something. Children are also very sensitive to what parents are feeling, so it is important that you manage your own anxiety as well.
How to ease the tension for you and your children:
- Be Physical – take time out of your day to play, run around, do an online exercise class together, dance, play hide and seek; do something fun to maintain some semblance of “normal.”
- Have a daily routine. You and your children should not be in pajamas all day, every day.
- Do tell them stories of how people are helping others during this crisis; i.e. whether it is donating to a charity, making cards for frontline workers, clapping for the essential workers, etc.. These are all lessons that will strengthen your children for the future.
- If you are volunteering – making masks, collecting money, etc., let the children help. Give them a task, so that they have a responsibility too.
- Important life lessons are to be learned in a crisis; teach your children to be grateful for what they have and talk about the children that may be struggling to get a hot meal because school is no more.
- Try meditation with your child.
- Play board games.
- Do arts and crafts; get creative.
- Bake that banana bread together (this seems to be an essential activity during Covid-19).
- Learn a new skill together.
- Take turns reading out loud.
The world may seem out of control right now between divorce and COVID-19, so take control where you can. Doing these activities and sticking to a schedule will help ease the stress and anxiety for your child as well as for you.