During tough times and stressful situations, children may feel as if their worlds have been turned upside down. But you can create a calm, familiar environment and build children’s sense of security.
Assure children they are safe and cared for: “I know this is hard, but you are very brave, and people can be brave and scared at the same time. We’ll get through this together.” Comfort doesn’t always have to be offered with words: hold hands and hug often!
Model Healthy Ways of Coping
In tough times, children look to adults to see how they should feel and react, so staying calm as much as possible helps. Let them know that it’s okay to have all different types of feelings, and that they can always talk to a parent or another grown-up about what they’re thinking and feeling. Saying something like “I get scared/worried sometimes too and I know it can feel icky inside,” can help justify their feelings and reassure them they’re not alone.
Stick to Routines
There’s always comfort in the familiar! Choosing at least one simple daily routine that can kids can look forward to, such as singing the same lullaby at night, can give them a sense of control. If children are struggling to carry out daily routines, it might help to hear something like, “Let’s put your worry [or other feelings] on the shelf while we [take our afternoon walk, read a bedtime story, and so on]. Then we’ll pick it up again and talk about it.” Setting aside a worry or fear and then talking about it later can help put it into perspective and give children time to relax and enjoy something they like.