Updated: Apr 21, 2020
With all that’s going on in the world these days, there’s a palpable increase in stress all around us. Our primitive brains can’t help going into a state of high alert - aka fear. The thing about fear is that it is very contagious.
So how do you protect your child from catching fear? And why is it important?
Since over 80% of communication is non-verbal, calming your own stress and fear is the most important thing you can do to help your child feel safe. There is 100% chance your child is picking up the fear in the general environment right now.
Here are 4 practical tips to make your home a safe haven.
Practice reasonable, effective precautions you have control over, to stay healthy and protect others: Frequent hand washing, social distancing, supporting a strong immune system (getting enough sleep, drinking water, minimizing sugar intake, managing stress, etc.)
Turn off the TV news that fuels the fire of fear. Don't bring it into your safe haven. Instead stay informed by trustworthy sources of information like these: a) MA Dept of Public Health b) John's Hopkins Medical Center c) The World Health Organization
Initiate a connecting activity at home each day. It can be as short as a 3 minute dance party or longer like a board game or popcorn and a movie.
Be alert for an increase in negative behaviors from your child, because behavior is your child’s language for communicating their feelings when they don’t have the word’s. Practice this as your first response to help them feel safe. “We’re all pretty stressed out right now, buddy. Mommy’s stressed out. Dad’s stressed out. The world is stressed out. (Pause and Breathe) We’re still OK. You’re going to be OK.”
Your child needs to hear that from you. You are their reference point for how to feel in this situation. Even if only part of you believes you’re OK, say it with that part of you. It’s enough to begin to calm the fear so the calm can start to become contagious!