- Validate emotions- Kids may have a range of reactions from feeling scared of the germs, sad to not see their friends, excited to be home, confused, maybe all at the same time! It is important to validate their anxieties before moving into calming strategies. EX: “ I understand that this feels big and scary for you right now. It is ok to feel scared sometimes. I am here with you and we will work through it together” instead of “there is nothing to be scared about”
- Help them regulate- Engaging in fun & calm breathing activities (blowing real or pretend bubbles is great!), practicing mindfulness or progressive muscle relaxation, praying together, or doing some physical activities are all great ways to help children regulate their emotional response systems.
- Let them process- Sometimes children need to talk through a scenario over and over again while they are trying to make sense of it. If they keep asking questions, try to keep answering them while reframing their words to focus on safety. Ex: Kiddo “school is closing because a really big germ is making people sick!” Grownup “ yes school is closing because a germ is making people sick and they want to make sure you stay safe and healthy! When you go back, the grownups there will have made sure it is safe for everyone!” An easy way to remember this is to think about this as helping them to get to the happy ending in the story. – Christina Schug, LLMSW, Trauma Therapist
Christina is a Licensed Master Social Worker who specializes in working with children, teens and their families. She has worked in the child welfare system in various capacities and is deeply passionate about helping to build the capacities of children and families to understand and heal from Trauma.