These tips are from an Article on Additude Magazine by ADHD EDITORIAL BOARD, LIDIA ZYLOWSKA, M.D., ERINA WHITE, PHD, MPH, MSW Please visit this link for the full article.
#1. Focus on the facts, understand the fear.
“What can help parents to manage anxiety is understanding the concept of intolerance of uncertainty,” Zylowska says. “Intolerance of uncertainly can drive worry and anxiety up the wall. It means that when something is uncertain, we tend to see it as dangerous, unsafe, or overwhelming. We can react with fear and avoidance or with frantic efforts to prepare for the unknown.
As much as possible, focus on the facts as we know them right now. Don’t try to predict the future or share Doom’s Day scenarios with your children. Projections aren’t helpful when no one knows for certain what’s ahead, and trying to guess may cause anxiety to run rampant. At the same time, understand that we are living in uncertain times and that will, naturally, cause justified worry.
“In the end, it is important for parents to acknowledge to themselves and to their children that anxiety, worry and, fear may be present; accept these feelings with compassion, and also learn to step back (at least a bit) from these fearful reactions. Focus on hope more than fear.”
#2. Acknowledge and manage your own anxiety.
“Children naturally look to parents to understand if they should fear something,” Zylowksa says. “Children are very good at picking up parents emotional energy, so it is really important to manage your own fear and anxiety and not amplify your child’s fears. This is even more important for parents of children who have an anxious temperament or have significant worry about something.
#3. Bow out or be quiet when your anxiety spikes. “We are our own kids’ first anxiety defense,” says Erina White, Ph.D., a clinical researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital and therapist in private practice who specializes in ADHD and anxiety. “They take their cues from us on how worried to be by the tone, pace, pitch, and volume of our voices.
“If you sense your own anxiety rising (or you notice yourself stuffing a million rolls of toilet paper into a closet) try (and I know this is hard) to take a deep breath and bring your own heart rate down. Over the last few days, when my anxiety was heightened, I tried to take frequent walks in nature, forcing myself to hear the birds, pat the animals, and feel the ground under my feet. I also hold my hand on my heart (or on the veins of my wrist) and try to lower the rapidity of the beats. When I’m in a good place I return to my family. If I’m not, I wait.”
#4. Start with a question. Follow with facts.“Ask gently (don’t yell or over question) how your child is doing,” White says. “Let them tell you if they are worried or scared or have questions about COVID-19. If they do, have a well-informed discussion.
“Go to the CDC website (or another trusted source) and show them what the scientists are saying. Help them to understand that there are experts working on things as we speak and let them learn how to seek this knowledge in a scientific and thoughtful way. Try to discourage them from buying into social media posts, rumors or over-done media outlets.”
#5. Limit news exposure. Remember, bad news is compelling and drives viewership. It drives up ratings, which in turn brings in more advertising dollars.
#6. Don’t over-share. Children may have questions about germs and sickness and, in some case, even death. But unless they ask you directly, try to minimize conversation on the topic of illness. The best thing you can do is reassure them that legions of responsible adults are working hard to keep everyone safe and healthy.
#7. Maintain a routine. Children with ADHD thrive on routine. A sustained school disruption can be extremely upsetting for them. To offset this enormous change of schedule, try to put in place a reliable daily home routine. Wake at the same time each day; carve out blocks of time for academics, exercise, and entertainment; eat regular meals together, and remember that regularity is calming and reassuring.
#8. Expect non-verbal signs of anxiety. In young children, anxiety often manifests as behavior that is extra clingy, weepy, or irritable. Keeping diet and sleep routines as normal as possible will give children a sense of security. Extra hugs (and bedtime stories) along with some additional one-on-one attention will go a long way toward making an anxious child feel better.
#9. Try to play — and laugh.
#10. Remind your children of the altruistic purpose of self-quarantining. “Oftentimes when kids understand the higher purpose of things, they can do some ‘meaning-making,’ which allows them to feel some control over their conditions,” White says. “For example, some may say, ‘We have to stay home now so that we don’t pass on the virus to others. We are going to be OK. Children are not at risk, but if we stay home we can make sure that grandma and grandpa stay healthy too…”
#11. Remember that this, too, shall pass.
Coronavirus Basics Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t remind parents of the coronavirus basics:
If you have symptoms, reach out to your doctor.For specific questions regarding individual health, contact your physician. Congestion, fever, and breathing difficulty should be brought to the attention of a healthcare provider. Understand however, that the flu is still a bigger concern than the coronavirus. Be proactive in seeking treatment but keep things in perspective.
Teach proper hand-washing techniques. Regular and frequent hand washing is the number one way to kill the spread of germs. The CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (two rounds of the “Happy Birthday” song or saying the alphabet twice). If soap and water aren’t available hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol is an acceptable substitute. Help your child remember to wash hands before and after eating, after petting cats and dogs, after touching garbage, after using the toilet, and especially after blowing their nose.
Practice good, basic hygiene. Avoid touching your face with your hands. Demonstrate how to cough or sneeze into a tissue and make tissues readily available throughout the home, especially in bedrooms, bathrooms, and the kitchen. Discourage sharing food and beverages, and remind children to avoid people who are sneezing or coughing. Handshakes are another no-no right now. Instead, greet people with a wave or challenge your family to make up their own healthy version of a no-contact greeting.
Clean and disinfect your home but don’t overdo it. Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting and discard them after each cleaning. Clean surfaces (counters, frequently touched cabinets, and drawers) with mild soap and water. Disinfect with diluted household bleach or alcohol solutions (follow manufacturer’s instructions.) Vacuum and dust as you normally would. Clean your cell phone as well, according to its manufacturer’s instructions.
Launder with care.If someone in your home is ill, launder their clothing separately and use disposable gloves — designated for this purpose — when handling their clothes, linens, and towels. Explain to children that this is temporary and special treatment during the next few weeks and that things will go back to normal eventually.
Again, this is sections of an article on Additude Magazine by ADHD EDITORIAL BOARD, LIDIA ZYLOWSKA, M.D., ERINA WHITE, PHD, MPH, MSW Please visit this link for the full article.