Many parents and families are asking the following question due to the COVID-19 procedures that have turned our world at home with our children a bit upside down: What would you suggest for preserving our normal in this temporary new normal?

This question indicates that you are already aware of or possibly experiencing the emotional mayhem that has started turning your home upside down. You have taken the first step by acknowledging that you want to preserve normalcy and the fact that you’ll have to adapt to a new normal. The two opposing forces are difficult to manage, and one can wonder if it’s even possible.

The therapeutic approach, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, (DBT) is a philosophical perspective of dialectics or the balancing of opposite thinking. Think about all the opposites that go through your mind when you hear or read news about COVID-19… “How will we ever get by?” And your opposite thought may be … “Oh, we will be ok…” Your mind might be racing from catastrophic thinking to normalcy to denial, and the loop plays on.

The reality is that it’s okay to have both thoughts running on repeat in your mind. Accepting that you will have difficulty keeping the status quo will help you to integrate change and adapt to the new normal. The benefits of DBT are to help you address stressful and anxious behavior through mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.

You can learn more about these skills with a licensed mental health counselor who will work with you to adopt these strategies. Call C.R.E.A.T.E. Outcomes to schedule a counseling session with one of our therapists.

Now let’s talk about how children are coping. How are you keeping your children safe? Not just physically safe, but mentally safe, as well? You might ask, “How can I do that when I’m a mess?” The first step is to notice and address your own anxiety and be compassionate with yourself. Being able to manage your emotions first will help you be the calming influence for your child/children.

Managing information overload is not easy when we are constantly reminded of the pandemic. When media coverage started, my email inbox was full of companies and organizations issuing their COVID-19 statement including their precautions and efforts to keep customers safe. It became a sea of information overload. It seems like our brain is uploading new information every day that leaves us feeling like the computer message, “This information already exists. Do you want to replace it?” Of course, we click YES! This is how we continue to brave the new unknown.

The old “me” time has turned into the new “we” time. One way to adapt to more “we” time is to create a compassionate structure. I included “compassionate” because we need to be kind to each other and ourselves. This structure will help children and adults feel a balance between uncertainty and predictability.

If children ask about COVID-19, inform them on an age-appropriate level. One of the most important things to remember is to not dismiss their fears. Don’t fall back on the, “You will be okay” reply. Your child’s feelings are real and scary to them, and you should sit down and support them as they explore them.

The book by Ana Gomez is a great tool for teaching young children about resilience. If you are looking for fun things to do at home, be creative and let your child’s imagination be the leader.

This struggle is real and the bridge between uncertainty and predictability is resilience.

Information about the author:

Jennifer Welton is a LPCC who works with parents and children to discover solutions together as a family. She specializes in working with preschool-aged children who might be struggling with social, emotional, or behavioral development.

Visit our staff page to learn more about Jennifer or schedule a session with her.

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