Kids and COVID: Anxiety Amped, How to Help – A TALK FROM “GIRL POWER HOUR 2020”

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by Danelle Spence

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11.12.2020

Girl Power Hour Calgary is an annual luncheon in support of adolescent mental health and the Lionheart Foundation.

The 2020 event was held virtually on November 5th with more than 900 registrants.

In my talk I offer guidance on parenting during COVID that may not be intuitive as anxiety levels are amped.

My Top Parenting Tips During COVID

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Learn to tolerate how your child expresses emotions

Learn to tolerate how your child expresses their emotions. Communicating what they are authentically feeling is necessary and will decrease their anxiety. Dismissing, avoiding or holding in emotions can create overwhelming internalization that can manifest as depression, eating problems, self-harm, anxiety, substance use and more.

Children need to see that you will be able to handle their emotions. This will invite them to open up to you more. If they believe you are too busy, frustrated, tired, or overwhelmed yourself, they will not bring their feelings to you.

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Don't transfer your anxiety

Don’t let your anxiety seed, or transfer anxiety onto your child. If they see that you are overly worried, then your child will believe there must be something to be worried about. You can acknowledge that you are also fearful or upset about what’s going on in the world, but that you can also take care of them and their feelings.

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Don't problem solve

Don’t immediately problem solve or offer advice. Often your child will just want to express or vent to you, rather than have you jump in with a quick solution. When you don’t allow them time to problem solve on their own (with your support), it short circuits the opportunity to tap into their own inner resources. Coming up with their own solution will also provide an improved sense of competency and control, both of which are needed during this unsettling time.

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Be curious about emotions

Be “curious” about your child’s inner emotional world, and specifically explore their fears and worries openly with them. If they express some irrational thoughts, don’t dismiss them or tell them not to worry about it.  Instead, say something like, “I can tell you’re anxious about that, can you tell me more? OR “I don’t get it… help me understand.”

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Be present

Be as present as you can. Turn off your own technology and open up space for your kids to come to you if they need. If they see you are available, they are more likely to seek you out with a concern. Try to set healthy work/home balance and boundaries. Have tech-free family dinners together. Carve out specific work time and specific family time and stick to it the best you can. Having tech-free bedrooms for all family members will improve everyone’s sleep, which is essential for overall well-being.

My Recommended Reading List For Parents & Kids During COVID

Untangled Book Cover

UNTANGLED

Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood

Book by Dr. Lisa Damour

Untangled helps mothers and fathers understand, connect, and grow with their daughters.

The Power of Showing Up Book Cover

THE POWER OF SHOWING UP

How Parental Presence Shapes Who Our Kids Become and How Their Brains Get Wired

Book by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.

This book is a powerful guide to cultivating your child’s healthy emotional landscape.

The Story of the Oyster and the Butterfly Book Cover

THE STORY OF THE OYSTER AND THE BUTTERFLY

The Corona Virus And Me

Book by Ana M. Gomez

Help children understand the Coronavirus
and COVID-19 – Free to Download.

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About the Author

Danelle Spence

Danelle Spence is a Registered Psychologist with a passion for helping teens effectively manage emotional distress and helping their parents’ understand the complex and developing teenage brain.

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