I rarely do guest posts but this one by Anya Willis from https://fitkids.info is important as the world situation is continuing to be so stressful. Children must have self-care coping skills. Enjoy this new blog post!
Self-care is an important part of your overall well-being. Learning to prioritize your mental health can start at an early age. Consider these six ways you can teach your children to practice self-care.
1. Give Them a Peaceful Space at Home
A stress-free home environment helps children feel safe and comfortable. You can create peace in the home in multiple ways. For example, disciplining with a gentle approach allows your children to learn respect without fear. How you plan your home aesthetic can also affect stress levels. For example, decluttering and having plenty of natural light help relieve anxiety. Bring in houseplants to purify the air and use oil diffusers to create a relaxing aroma. A zen home helps kids focus and relax.
2. Prioritize Quality Time
Prioritizing quality time lets your kids know how important they are to you. That translates into feeling important themselves. Quality time doesn’t have to include an elaborate plan. It can be as simple as making a nighttime routine or letting them help you with the chores around the house. Having a normal routine quality time takes the pressure off you to overcompensate. Research shows that kids who spend quality time with their parents have fewer behavioral issues and better mental and physical health overall.
3. Keep an Open Dialogue About Mental Health
Make discussing mental health a priority in your household. If you notice your kids feeling stressed or anxious, talk to them about getting help. You can access therapy virtually to provide a secure, private experience for your children, and it requires less commitment than going in person. Also, you have more professionals to choose from online, and it’s often more affordable. You can typically even schedule a free consultation with multiple therapists to ensure you are a good fit with the one you choose.
4. Teach Them To Enjoy Alone Time
Learning to spend time alone is an important part of building confidence. Allow your children some privacy in the home. Knock on their bedroom door before you come in and respect their response. If they feel in control of their alone time, they’ll learn to enjoy it more.
5. Nurture Their Interests
When your child expresses a new interest, encourage them to explore it further. For example, if they love painting or drawing, take them shopping for supplies and display their artwork around the house. Hobbies are a great way to practice self-care, and it’s a very personal experience. You may not always love the things they do. For example, collecting bugs may give you the creeps, but if your child loves it, let them know you’re happy for them.
6. Remind Them To Be Grateful
Show your kids how to be grateful by example. If you practice thankfulness in your daily life, your children will pick up on that as well. The best time to be grateful is when things don’t go to plan. It’s easy to shift to the negative when things don’t go your way, but if you show your children a positive attitude, you can affect how they approach life.
When you keep the lines of communication open with your children, you give them a way to express themselves and talk about how they feel. When you validate their feelings, they learn confidence at an early age. The more confidence they have, the more likely they are to prioritize self-care.
I believe that the answer to this question is a whole-hearted yes! As I write this blog post, I am sickened by the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. Just a few years ago I would have celebrated it, but watching the world situation the last few years, and opening up to the other side of abortion has changed my beliefs about this. Plus, Covid has shown me that the very people who are supposed to be pro-life aren’t at all. They won’t do anything to protect themselves and others from this serious virus that is causing harm and death to millions of people around the world daily.
According to this article, somehow the Supreme Court used this case to overturn Roe v. Wade. “The court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization upheld a law from Mississippi that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, roughly two months earlier than what has been allowed under Supreme Court precedent dating back to Roe.
In siding with Mississippi, the court’s conservative majority said the Roe decision was egregiously wrong in recognizing a constitutional right to an abortion, an error the court perpetuated in the decades since.”
To be honest, I truly don’t understand how they went from an appropriate limit on abortion to completely overturning the whole law. I personally believe in limiting the abortion to 12 weeks gestation unless it’s a medical emergency.
I hate abortion! However, watching how the world is so inconsiderate of other people, and how a former president who is horribly narcissistic even tried to overthrow the election, I see now that the “pro-life movement” is truly just pro-birth. They don’t want to do anything to help women, men, and babies.
Here are some of my own definitions regarding abortion and pro-life. Again, these are based off my own observations and opinions.
Pro-birth: Just getting the baby born without doing much to support families and teenagers during and after the pregnancy. Going through the states on this website, it seems like the states that are outright banning abortion only allow it for a medical reason. And some of them are trying to do away with the Plan B pill.
“What does Plan B exactly do?
Plan B One-Step is a type of morning-after pill that can be used after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. Plan B One-Step contains the hormone levonorgestrel — a progestin — which can prevent ovulation, block fertilization or keep a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.
Some states are limiting access to emergency contraceptives such as Plan B because they equate it with the abortion pill, but this isn’t the abortion pill, and it’s outright dangerous for rape/incest victims, people who don’t have the ability to care for the baby for any reason, and people with disabilities who are seven times more likely to be raped and/or sexually assaulted! They are not capable of handling pregnancy and the emotional trauma of having the baby taken away is tremendous.
Thankfully, in the midst of getting this post edited, President Biden signed an executive order to protect emergency contraceptives, abortions that are to save the life of the person who is pregnant if the child can’t also be saved, and beef up the Obamacare mandates of providing contraceptives. See this article as well as this one for more info about these protections.
I also worry about forced sterilization for people with disabilities and other people who are “different” because some of these pro-birth people are also White Supremacists that might try to limit who should be allowed to have children.
Pro-life aims to protect the life from conception to natural death. It recognizes that there are times when abortion is necessary for the woman who has a medical issue, the baby is dying, rape, incest, and people who are unable to carry the baby. It’s being willing to choose as much life as possible without having to deny that the baby is a baby.
Pro-life: Being willing to help stop an abortion through providing free support, birth control, health care, family health care, family leave longer than 6 weeks, free lactation consultants, help for child care, high quality child care, more sick days, access to healthy food for the entire family, classes on child care, and mental health care.
Some of these people call themselves pro-choice. I don’t have a problem with that as long as they truly believe in giving people the information they need to make the appropriate decision for the women and family. Many of these people want limitations on abortion and don’t believe it should be done after the first trimester unless it’s a medical emergency and the doctors try to save both the woman and the baby.
Abortion is a hard word because sometimes the baby is so wanted but he/she is found to have a condition that is slowly killing him/her and hurting him/her. In these cases, if these babies are viable, they simply have the woman deliver the child and hold the baby as he/she naturally passes away. This should never be prohibited! Unfortunately, this type of humane treatment is also called “abortion.”
On the opposite side, to abort a baby just because he/she has a certain condition that is livable is totally wrong! We deserve to live.
Pro-abortion: Not always wanting limitations on abortion. Not always wanting to make sure that the people are informed about what they are about to do. Also, some of these people are fine with partial birth abortion. Partial birth abortion is sick and murder!! There’s absolutely no reason to have a partial birth abortion. No!
I’m pro-life. I want children to live in a world that protects them long after birth. I’m sorry that there are times abortion is necessary, but it is. I would love to see it become more humane and respectful if the baby is removed from the womb closer to the 12-week-mark of pregnancy.
I’m very concerned about a number of topics that I have already covered. I think that this is a horrible precedent to set. And the fact that these judges lied under oath in order to get a position on the Supreme Court is a travesty!! So does that mean judges are free to lie under oath without any consequences? What does this mean for the justice system? It is already messed up with racism and other corruption, so now it may become even more corrupt.
Along with the majority of Americans, I am worried about the rights of the LBGTQ community that is already under fire. Please see my previous blog post about this. I’m worried about the rights of Black people, various other minority groups, disability rights, and the falling of our nation because of people who are narcissistic, right-wing extremists that want to stop progress and go backwards.
Yes, this is a truly scary time for the country!
Talking to young children about this
Finally, I would like to share a few tips for talking to young children about this.
Explain to the children that a woman has the ability to grow and deliver a baby. It is a wonderful thing!
However, sometimes the woman can’t keep growing the baby and that is sad.
When a woman is unable to grow the baby, the baby is removed from her body by a doctor and it’s traumatic, but necessary for her well-being.
The baby goes to Heaven (or the version that is appropriate for whatever spiritual beliefs that the family has).
The government is trying to take this away which will really hurt women and their families.
We want to protect this and protect babies from suffering.
This is a very complicated subject and emotional. I wish people could come together and set appropriate limits on abortion and prevent unwanted pregnancy from happening. Reversing Roe v. Wade isn’t a win for anyone. More will die because of this and that is NOT pro-life!!!!
With the current laws being enacted in Florida and Texas as well as other conservative states to stop the LBGTQ+ community from being able to live their lives, it got me thinking about how I used to believe some of the same things until I started really listening to these people. I have many friends in this community now and I am heartbroken over how they are treated.
Many LBGTQ+ children are kicked out of the house when they come out to their parents. Some are subjected to horrible “conversion therapy” to try to “convince” them that they are not gay or transgender. These children are very likely to be abused and murdered by their family or people in the community who don’t want to understand that they are people too.
“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people are over-represented in foster care, where they are more likely to experience discrimination, abuse, neglect and the risk of harm. A 2019 study found 30.4 percent of youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ and 5 percent as transgender, compared to 11.2 percent and 1.17 percent of youth not in foster care.”
In Texas, a law was recently passed making it “child abuse” for parents to give their transgendered children care that would allow them to have the body that their brain is telling them they are. As of now, a judge has partially blocked the law. I believe that the exact opposite is true. It is abusive NOT to allow these children to have the gender affirming medical care they require. They are at a high risk of suicide for not being allowed to have transitional gender affirming medical care and psychotherapy.
People like to shrug off the suicide issue of transgender children, but according to Forbes from 2021, “52% of all transgender and nonbinary young people in the U.S. seriously contemplated killing themselves in 2020. More than half thought it would be better to be dead, rather than trying to live with rejection, isolation, loneliness, bullying and being targeted by politicians and activists pushing anti-trans legislation.”
These children have to deal with so much discrimination from conservative policymakers. They are banned from using the correct bathrooms with which they identify. What do we think happens when a trans girl is forced to use the boys’ bathroom and vice versa? They look like the gender with which they identify.
And banning them from playing on the team of the gender with which they identify because people think they have an advantage over the other team is wrong. We might as well ban anyone “different” from playing sports because I can guarantee that transgender children don’t have any advantage over their peers. Everyone is talented in different ways!
Finally, the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida enacted by Governor DeSantis is horrible! As an early childhood professional, sex and gender identity isn’t a main topic in the curriculum unless we have a child with gay parents or a child who is struggling with this issue. These children deserve support and compassion. Teachers need to teach children to accept these differences. The LBGTQ+ community is in no way trying to get children to be something that they’re not. They are just trying to get acceptance and support to stop the horrible discrimination they face daily. I believe in having developmentally appropriate discussions and books that include the LBGTQ+ community in the classroom.
I am so grateful that President Biden is taking action to try to help protect everyone in the LBGTQ+ community by taking executive action to stop the use of conversion therapy and help keep the rights and lives of this group as safe as possible. The amount of bigotry from the religious, right wing is absolutely disgusting! And it’s only getting worse!
There’s another group of children and adults who live with a higher than average risk of being abused: The disabled.
“Child abuse and neglect is reported in 3% to 10% of the population with disabilities. The rate of child abuse and neglect is at least 3 times higher in children with disabilities than in the typically developing population.”
Children with disabilities have higher needs and require more care. They often have unique behavioral issues that typical children don’t. For some children with disabilities, these behaviors may last well into adulthood because their brains aren’t able to mature like typical people. They are so reliant on others for care and help that they are prime candidates for all types of abuse.
As someone with a severe disability, I can attest to the abuse. I was physically, verbally, and emotionally abused by my dad because I couldn’t control my muscles. I was emotionally and verbally abused by other family members and people at school. Just because life with a child who is disabled can be very stressful and frustrating at times doesn’t excuse abuse.
Like LBGTQ+ children, there’s a stigma that comes along with being disabled. We live in an ableist world. For a long time, people with disabilities, starting in young childhood, were locked up in institutions and forgotten. These institutions were absolutely horrible and many children died from abuse and inadequate care. There even used to be laws that prohibited people with disabilities from being in society. Similarly with the LBGTQ+ community, the disabled have a higher risk of being murdered.
As the article above points out, many religious groups believe that disabilities are due to “sin,” thus, causing people to treat them badly and abuse them. Let me be clear: No disability is due to sin!
Another thing that the article on ableism points out is that the medical community often treats the disability as a “problem.” But people with disabilities have absolutely nothing “wrong” with them. They are just different and deserve quality medical care, and yet, they often don’t receive it. The cost of medical care is even higher than that of typical people and people with disabilities also usually require adaptive equipment and therapy to be able to live the best life they can!
Unfortunately the Americans with Disabilities Act hasn’t helped all that much because most public places only do the minimum requirements. Many employers don’t want to have the responsibility of helping people with disabilities work in their work places. And people with disabilities don’t get “free money.” If they are on SSI, they can only have $2,000 if they are single and $3,000 if married. We’re trying to get this changed.
Being told by parents, teachers, employers, and society in general that “You’re worthless, a burden, a problem, a liability, and your life doesn’t matter” leads to isolation, anxiety, depression, and suicide.
Covid has really bought out just how ableist the world is, especially the United States. Many people feel that their lives are more important than others who are still vulnerable to serious consequences of getting Covid. It’s all-too-often just laughed at while believing that it is perfectly fine for people who are high risk to remain locked up for the rest of their lives. This is going back to the days when children and adults were forced to remain locked up and out of society. This is abuse!
There is no excuse for abuse of any child or adult, especially if they are different. We are all equal and worthy no matter our race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and/or disability. We need to stop going backwards and start moving forward to become a kinder, more accepting world. No child should be hurt. It is also abuse and ableist to expect any child to be someone that he/she isn’t or to expect children to be able to do things that they are not yet able to do!
I love this quote especially with the current state of the world. I know that I write a great deal about empathy and compassion. I am seeing, and experiencing, less and less empathy. On social media, there’s more “laughing” than there used to be. For example, any public post about Covid including stories about people who had it and had to be hospitalized are laughed at.
As a child advocate, I am all too familiar with the hate and insults I get from people who believe that spanking/hitting, harsh punishment, and cry-it-out are “necessary” for raising “great” people. However, I’m not as familiar with this whole concept of laughing at other people’s stories about their very real pain. I don’t understand why this is happening. I am afraid that the conservative cult is definitely behind it.
Our children are watching everything and listening to everything. We’re trying to fight and stop bullying, but we are seeing adults being the bullies. They bully their children into doing what they want. They bully people like me who refuse to stop speaking up for the most vulnerable in society. I don’t want to live in a world where it’s acceptable for people to be bullied for their pain and fear. It’s not okay; if you believe in Jesus, it’s not what He taught.
This makes me truly afraid of the future and the children growing up with those parents who are laughing at suffering. Those people who are laughing at suffering are sadisticand that’s scary. What kind of world are we headed for if so many are laughing at suffering instead of helping people and protecting people?
This is what Jesus taught:
“I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
John 13:34, (NASB).
Do we really want to teach children that it’s ok to laugh at suffering of any kind? Do we really want to teach children that they can walk all over people who are hurting and/or scared? Do we really want to live in a society that doesn’t protect the vulnerable?
At the rate we’re going, that world is becoming too much of a reality and it’s not going to end well for humanity!
With the pandemic still raging on and the new variant, it feels like it will never end. Children ages 5-11 are, as of this writing, finally able to get vaccinated against Covid. Sadly, the same arguments are continuing and getting worse from the anti-mask and anti-vaxxers crowd. They are not able to think about the common good. I have lost all hope for humanity. I guess this could be a product of generations of spanking as research has shown that corporal punishment can have a negative impact on the development of empathy in children.
The world is in disarray and we’re all tired of it. The children are stuck in the middle of the arguments, and are being fueled by the adults to act out. I am only getting glimpses of the true Christmas spirit.
In fact, I keep hearing the toxic message from Christians that “this is from ‘God'” and that “God will spare the righteous.” It is so sad that they don’t understand that this is not from God. Children have died from Covid. Devout Christians are dying from Covid. Jesus never intended for all of this confusion and toxic teachings from the church.
Spirituality is so simple and we weren’t supposed to know it all. Jesus was trying to teach so much more, but because our human minds are so limited and prone to boxing everything up, and man’s desire to control people who are different from them, has led to religion being toxic and oppressive instead of promoting true spiritual freedom. And it’s ruined love for one another. I just feel so bad for humanity; we’re truly stuck in hell of our own making.
We’re losing so much with this pandemic. Grief is horrible for many people this year again. I know it’s pretty bad for me.
My message to everyone is to grieve together, and think of other people more than ourselves. Seek truth, Science, compassion, and true love. May children stay safe and learn true empathy. Or, may we learn it from them! Peace and love through the holidays!
Twenty years ago I was about to turn 20-years-old and a college student. I was newly engaged and my now husband was my personal aide in school. The 9/11 attacks happened while we were on the way to school that morning. We had no idea what happened until we walked into the office where I was allowed to get extra time to get my homework done due to my severe cerebral palsy. Everyone was quiet and in shock. My tutor asked if we had heard what happened and we said no. She told us and led us to the television. We watched in shock as the towers were on fire and eventually fell. It felt like I was watching a movie. I didn’t know how to process it and trying to get my work done was stressful.
As time went on and I watched it all unfold, I got emotional. And my birthday 48 hours later was somber despite my turning twenty. Everything was somber for a while and the skies were so quiet from the airplanes being grounded. We didn’t know what was going to happen next. It was a very hard and scary time. My husband’s friend from grade school was one of the casualties of that day.
But what I remember most, except for a few conspiracy theorists who were ignorant, and still are, about the attacks, the country actually came together. People were kinder. Drivers had more empathy for each other. Definitely a total contrast from today’s current reaction to the pandemic.
Children got comforted and observed the adults coming together to help each other deal with the trauma. Oh how I long for that type of empathy and compassion again. Social media is probably going to be the destroyer of the world since it allows people to become even more ingrained in their beliefs and argue with everyone. It is now spilling over into the real world.
With the ongoing pandemic going on, my husband and I have been in isolation for eleven months now, and in October, the one place I could safely go in was taken away because of the rising numbers of COVID-19. So except for rides and medical appointments, I have not been anywhere in four months. There’s a little hope with the new president that takes the virus seriously and with the shots that may prevent COVID-19, but there’s a lot of uncertainty and people still don’t want to take proper precautions to limit the spread.
All this is leading to unprecedented anxiety, depression, and desperation for me and many others. I am a trauma survivor with the serious side effects of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and CPTSD. I am losing track of the days and I am feeling like time is going in a weird speed. My trust issues and abandonment issues are becoming worse and I don’t want to push the very people who truly love me away. It’s a scary, lonely place and I am continuing to work with a therapist to get through the trauma of the abuse that was heaped upon me. But even therapy is harder because I can’t go in person.
This has been leading me to think about isolating time-outs for children. I know I covered it in this post I wrote a few years ago, but with this new understanding of isolation and what it is doing to my 39-year-old brain, I want to talk about it again.
It can cause anxiety, depression, desperation, despair, anger, and hopelessness. This article shows the research on the effects of social isolation. We are social beings that need meaningful relationships. As someone with a severe disability, even before the pandemic started, there have been many times in my life that I was in a room full of people but I still felt lonely because I wasn’t able to find a deep relationship with anyone there. I communicate easier online due to my slurred speech, but I still require in-person interaction.
Due to the experience of being isolated from the world except for online, I have an even better understanding isolating time-outs. Using isolating time-out is damaging to the child’s brain. I am not talking about the quick break that we all need sometimes. I am talking about forcing the child to sit quietly alone for a specific amount of time and then making it longer if he/she doesn’t sit quietly. This is punishment and harmful. It is essentially isolation.
While if a parent is still bent on using punishment, I would rather have the parent use time-out rather than spanking/hitting their children. However, isolating time-out doesn’t teach anything but that the child deserves to be alone until he/she can behave. Children, especially young children, have no sense of time so they feel like it is forever. I remember feeling that way when I was put in my room and I would scream with anger and fear. I hated my parents. It didn’t teach me anything.
My husband remembers his dad leaving him for a brief period of time and he felt anxious about when his dad would be back because even though he was 8-years-old and old enough to be left briefly, he still had no sense of time.
As I mentioned in my previous post about time-outs, children are usually not sitting there thinking about what they did wrong. Rather, they’re angry, confused, in fight or flight mode, and wondering how much longer they have to sit there. Some may learn to berate themselves for messing up. Some may learn to distract themselves during the time-out.
Time-in, however, allows for quiet time with a supportive adult even if he/she just sits nearby until the child calms down enough to talk through what happened. The adult can use time-in to teach children emotional regulation, empathy, validation, and coping skills such as deep breaths or using words to help them express themselves in a healthy manner.
I understand that we are all on edge right now but isolating children to punish them will only make the children feel even worse and may exacerbate negative behaviors. We all need to give each other grace and empathy during this ongoing stressful time.
How many things are truly unconditional? It’s almost Christmas and we tell children that Santa will bring them presents if they are good. We put Elf on the shelf so that they know he is watching them for Santa. I know that some families play games with this toy but many people don’t.
Love is supposed to be unconditional but it often demands things from others or it’s removed when the child misbehaves—no matter how old he/she is. Christian doctrine teaches that God is love but one must say the “right prayer” to avoid going to “Hell.” I feel like true unconditional love is rare. I have seen both in my life and now it’s even more apparent with the pandemic. Love for our neighbors means doing everything we can to protect them from COVID-19 by wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands frequently, and staying home for Christmas with immediate family.
And children should have presents just because they are loved; not because they were good. The real St. Nick gave to the poor and helped the oppressed because he was kind and loving. He didn’t expect anything from them. Here’s a wonderful video on the history of Santa.
Have you ever just given something to someone without telling anyone or given something to a complete stranger who needs help? These have been the most rewarding experiences for me. This is loving people unconditionally.
I believe that respect is earned but love is not. Love, especially for children, should never ever be earned. This doesn’t mean that we have to be involved with toxic people. Love them by walking away from them.
I understand that some people have very high-needs children and it is really hard but they should love their children for who they are. Speaking from my own experience of being a very high-needs child as well as having a parent ask in a Facebook group about what to do to prevent damage from not being able to meet every single need, I believe that it is more important to explain to the child that we are trying our best and validate the child.
However, coming from an abusive, narcissistic home and struggling to come to terms with my own mother being narcissistic and and that she will never be able to be a good mom to me, what hurts is parents not talking about it in a healthy way. I have severe cerebral palsy and even my husband can’t meet every emotional need I have and sometimes he gets frustrated which is human but it triggers me. The difference is that he is truly trying and admits to his shortcomings. I do the same.
But with narcissistic parents, they don’t care and won’t admit that they are falling short. In these cases and other abusive situations, the love is not unconditional. I think as long as one has a good connection with his/her child and teaches healthy coping skills, the child may need help later on in life, but he/she shouldn’t have the same amount of pain and damage that us who were abused by our narcissistic parents have.
Accepting that one’s child is different than the parent is unconditional love. When this happens and children have very different personalities than the parents, the best thing that parents can do is accept it and support the children. Get involved with at least one activity that the child enjoys. And share each other’s interests with each other knowing that it’s ok to be so different. Yes, it is hard at times but the key is to validate and accept.
This Christmas, with so many people sick and dying from COVID-19, let’s remember the little Baby that came to Earth to try and teach us what unconditional love is. Or if you don’t celebrate Christmas, please think about how you can make this world better by loving people instead of being selfish.
Have a peaceful Holiday season. We remember all who we lost this year. May 2021 eventually be a better year!
Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving and while my husband and I are used to celebrating on our own, I know many of you are doing the right, selfless thing by staying home to celebrate with immediate family only. Some of you are facing a first Thanksgiving without loved ones due to COVID-19. Please know that we’re thinking and praying for you.
This has been a year of constant anxiety, trauma, uncertainty, and unrest. Therefore, as we, hopefully, stay home and gather with immediate family, may we try to find things we’re grateful for even if it is small. May we think or look at the children in our lives and consider the type of world we want for them. One full of divisions and hate and bad church doctrine. Or one full of unity, love, kindness and compassion.
As we continue to deal with this COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of empathy is so apparent in this country. People not wanting to do the simplest things to protect others from the virus. Anti-maskers are shouting about their rights and, ironically, they are using the pro-choice slogan, “My body, my right.” This totally disregards the lives of others. If one is truly pro-life, one cares about the life way after birth! Otherwise, it’s just pro-birth!
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes to understand as much as possible in order to try to understand what the other person is feeling or going through. One can feel the same feelings as the other person or at least get an idea of what the other person is going through.
Empathy is a learned behavior. While some children are born with more empathy than others, infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are naturally egocentric due to their developmental stage. This is a survival mechanism and not a “bad thing.” Adults can help the development of empathy by modeling it to their children and pointing out feelings of others—whether positive or negative.
I talked a bit about helping children understand about COVID-19 in my previous post, but here’s a great book written by a teacher that helps further explain this highly contagious, dangerous, damaging, and deadly virus in a developmentally appropriate way. If you are one who is not taking this seriously, please read this story!
While places are now opened and the topic of going back to school rages on, and schools are opening only to have cases of COVID-19 the first week of school, the numbers of positive cases continues to rise. I am truly saddened by the fact that this health crisis has become political and empathy for people who are high risk, children, teachers, healthcare workers seems to be going by the wayside. Except for the rare medical appointment and the fact that my chosen family owns a private tattoo shop and keeps people out while I am there, my quarantine hasn’t ended. I try to wear a mask but it falls down because of spasms due to my severe cerebral palsy. Anti-maskers laugh that I am not able to be in public because too many people are worried about their own comfort and rights to have empathy for those who can’t wear a mask and/or are high risk. What a horrible example they are setting for our children.
As an early childhood professional,I don’t recommend children going back to school until this virus is under control.I know it’s hard for poor families and I worry about social-emotional development of the children, but we have to realize that even if children are less likely to get seriously ill,some are going to get seriously ill or get the inflammatory disease that kills them.Not to mention bringing it home to the family and then we don’t know who will get mild symptoms and who will be hospitalized and on a ventilator.
I am so grateful for everyone who is wearing masks and protecting people like me who can’t wear masks easily and then the health care workers busting their butts to fight this pandemic.
Children who are old enough to wear a mask in public should! While some children will have an easier time adjusting to wearing a mask, it is possible to help them with it.
Here are some things that we can do to help children adjust to wearing a mask:
Always wear a mask yourself when out in public. Actions speak louder than words!
Educate them about how masks help protect others and them. If they like superheroes, compare them to being a superhero for wearing masks because superheroes always protect others from dangerous situations. There are some wonderful children’s books to read to them to further encourage them to wear a mask in public. I recommend this book.
Start with short periods of time wearing a mask and do a fun activity to help distract them from the mask.
Let the child pick out a few masks and/or let him/her decorate one so he/she wants to wear it.
Try different masks for the most comfortable one for the child.
Validate feelings about wearing a mask and tell the child that it is uncomfortable sometimes but it is the only way to go anywhere.
Keep little hands busy so they don’t constantly touch the mask.
Always have extra masks on hand or in the children’s backpacks because they are going to drop, throw, spill, forget masks so they need extras on them whenever they are in public. Also, keep hand sanitizer with you and/or them for washing their hands.
Make up a silly song to sing such as, “This is the way we wear our masks” to the tune of Farmer Brown.
Turn mask wearing into a game to see who can keep theirs on the longest.
Use mirrors in the car to have everyone put them on at the same time.
If for any reason the child has a meltdown and refuses to wear the mask when you get to have a destination and you have to go in, take some deep breaths, make sure that the child doesn’t have an unmet need, the mask isn’t pinching or hurting him/her, and carry the child in if it isn’t possible to have someone bring stuff out to you.
Never make wearing a mask into a power struggle. This will make the child want to wear it even less. If the child is showing you that he/she is not ready for a mask, make sure that he/she knows that going out is not an option without a mask.
This is a very uncertain time for everyone. We are all extremely stressed and anxious and children are no exception. Regression during times of extreme upheaval and stress is normal for children, so try to hold space for it and your own feelings.
The only way we will get through this pandemic is to have empathy for each other and do what we need to do to stop the spread of the virus. We can do this TOGETHER!!!!