69 – ABC’s of Parenting in a Pandemic with Carmen O, Marriage and Family Therapist
written by Carmen Okhmatovski (Individual and Relational Therapist) on 24/12/20
Are you struggling to parent anxious kids while your own stress or anxiety is on the rise? During the pandemic, many parents are finding themselves struggling to maintain their own mental health, and emotionally regulate themselves while also managing their kids’ rising emotions. The recent changes in our interactions with each other and the outside world can feel very destabilizing.
It’s easy to say “kids are resilient – they’ll be fine,” but the truth is that children are just as susceptible to anxiety as adults. They rely on adults to help organize their feelings, and create a sense of stability.
ABCs of Parenting Through Anxiety:
Awareness: Find a way to be aware, and talk about emotions and how they affect us. Where do I feel this in my body? What do I want to do when I feel this way? What would I like to say to this feeling? What do I need when I feel this way? Help your kids name their emotions and talk about them.
- Red/Yellow/Green light. “I’m at Yellow Light. I feel sad and I need XYZ”
- Scale of 1-10 “I’m at a 7, feeling worried, and I need XYZ”
- Process feelings with: “Dump” Journaling, emotions art, or storytelling.
Balance: Which of your patterns are too much or too little? How can you add balance or perspective? What can do you more or less of, to come back to centre?
- Circles of control: What can I control? What can I influence? What cant I control?
- Circles of Knowing: What do I know for certain? What can I reasonably guess at? What is it impossible to know?
- Action Plan: I cannot fix everything, but this is what I can do:
- Do the opposite: My big feelings want me to do this: XYZ. Instead, I’m going to do this: XYZ.
Connection: Slow the whirlwind and anxiety through routine and ritual. Spend time that includes eye contact, reciprocal conversation, and physical contact. Find ways to connect with others virtually, when possible.
If you feel you, your kids, or your family need extra support through this time, please reach out. Carmen is welcoming new clients, and would be happy to work with you.
Carmen Okhmatovski, MFT