Discussing COVID-19 with our kids can be confusing! How much do I say? What details do I include? Albeit challenging, it’s critical we discuss SOME aspects of COVID-19 with our kids. Having these tough conversations leaves our kids with a sense of understanding. It’s important that we direct the narrative to a place of safety and connection rather than their minds wandering toward confusion and isolation.
Arielle Sheinman, LCSW shares with us a few activities for families to complete at home to discuss COVID-19 related anxiety and sadness.
The Rock and The Play-Doh: What Can I Control?
This was originally published by Krystal Detarding. The purpose of this game is to teach children that mindset matters and the ways they think about the pandemic and quarantine play a big role in how we cope with it. The empathy and validation in acknowledging the pain of what is out of their control is also transformative!
FIRST! Find a rock and a ball of Play-Doh or any type of clay.
Hold the rock in your hand. Squeeze it as hard as you can. Try to bend it. Roll it between your hands. Are you able to change the rock?
Now, hold the Play-Doh in your hand. Squeeze it as hard as you can. Try to bend it. Roll it between your hands. Are you able to change the Play-Doh?
Tell your child: The rock is hard and can’t be changed but the Play-Doh is soft, and you have control over what form it takes.
During this quarantine what do you have control over? What do you not have control over? What are your rocks and what are your playdoughs?
Here are some ideas to discuss then add your own…
I don’t have control over……
What other people do or say Sickness
How long this will last
I do have control over…..
What I do and say
Washing my hands
Finding fun things to do at home
The Parent Interview
Have your child pretend to be a reporter and interview you. Encourage them to be as playful as possible! This will give insight into how your child is processing COVID-19 and allow you to share your own experience. You can give your child a list of questions for the interview. The activity will leave your child feeling connected.
Your child could ask you:
- What has been the biggest change?
- How are you finding home schooling?
- How are you feeling?
- What are you most thankful for during this time?
- What is your new favorite inside activity?
- Top moments from this experience?
Create your own Superhero
Tell your child- “Let’s create a superhero who has never been invented before! What superpowers would the superhero have?” Name, draw, and explore your child’s work. Discuss ways your child can embody the qualities of a superhero while dealing with Covid-19, homeschooling and the many challenges they are facing.
Roll the Dice Game for Boredom
Everyone is home and boredom can weigh on families causing stress and conflict. Below is a fun way to mix up predictable activities and combat boredom.
Create a list of fun activities and then roll (2) dice to decide what to play when bored. Here are some ideas to get you started…
- Scavenger Hunt (there are great indoor and outdoor ideas)
- Drawing Contest
- Simon Says
- Puzzle – I nice size one for the whole family to participate
- Box/board game (Jenga, Uno, Scrabble, Spot It
- Bike ride
- Movie night based on your age appropriate selections
- Bake cookies
- Create a Giant fort with tons of pillows and blankets in your home
- Create a Rube Goldberg challenge
- You DECIDE
If you notice changes to your child’s eating/sleeping habits, mood, clinginess, or emotional reactivity these may all be signs that your child is struggling with anxiety during this difficult time. I hope these suggestions help you and your family navigate these crazy time all that much better. There are many resources for help right now. Should you wish to reach out to Arielle Sheinman, drop her a line via email [email protected]. Or follow her on instagram at @therapywitharielle for more great tips and information.
About the author: Arielle is a licensed clinical social worker in both Illinois and New Jersey. She operates a private practice in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago. After graduating from New York University’s Silver School, Arielle began her work with children and families. She developed a passion for working with parents, assisting them in transforming their homes by connecting with them to their core values. Arielle has experience working with children, “tweens,” teenagers and adults struggling with anxiety, depression, and ADHD/executive functioning challenges. Her other interests include working with individuals with specific learning disorders and helping families navigate special education services and the IEP process. She has since completed the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy training program specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders and was voted a “Top Kids Doc” by New Jersey Family Magazine in 2018 and 2019. In response to COVID-19, Arielle is currently utilizing a HIPPA compliant teletherapy platform to meet the needs of existing and new clients.