Answers to common questions about coping with COVID-19 crisis

How to calm a young child’s fears, help older kids with disappointment, and dealing with marital strife.

We are living in a challenging time of uncertainty. With so many unknowns, it’s common to feel stressed, anxious or overwhelmed. There are also many unanswered questions on coping with problems at home related to the pandemic. To help address these problems, here are some answers to common questions arising during this troubled time.

Q: I’m really worried about my 3-year-old daughter. She seems to be bouncing off the walls. What can I do to help her?

Young children are emotional sponges. They absorb what their parents and older siblings feel. With COVID-19, social distancing and the fear of the unknown, we are all stressed. Little kids absorb that tension, but don’t have words for expressing their experience. They express those feelings in action. Little kids get hyper, more demanding, have meltdowns and get tearful — but they don’t know why.

Enter the kid’s show, “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” Daniel knows how to belly breathe, and we can teach Sarah how to take long slow breaths or practice blowing out birthday candles. It’s helpful to give her words — scared, mad and sad are all good words to suggest. Maybe she’s mad when dad is on the computer for his job rather than playing with her. Young children are confused why their parents aren’t at work. Or she’s scared when she hears mom fret about her grandma. Sarah might be sad when her best friend Mary can’t come over because she has a cough. It’s all confusing for little kids.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Staying calm yourself, keeping kids away from the news, and getting outside will help keep the tension level down. That will help your kids feel more comfortable.

And most importantly, cultivate your own calm. Your kids will absorb and act the way you behave.

Q: I’m arguing with my husband about anything and everything. I’m going nuts.

Sigh. Social distancing is keeping us at home with far more togetherness than any of us are used to. Sure, we’re getting to spend more time together — but it may not be quality time. Focus on how to have some separation — send your husband or wife out for a walk or a bike ride. We all need some alone time.

Make sure to limit alcohol consumption. Excess alcohol is a great way to loosen your tongue — but not necessarily in a good way. There is a big difference between one or two glasses of wine with dinner, and three or four glasses of wine.

Focus on the positive side of forced isolation — we get to spend more time with the people we love and who love us. Find ways of expressing that love in words and deeds. Try not to react to your partner’s irritability. Greet it with love and peace.

Q: My son’s sport season has been canceled. He seems depressed. How can I help him?

For so many kids, sports are really important. It’s a playing field where they can excel, feel competent and capable, and have fun. They enjoy the physical outlet, the pleasure of competing, and the joy of moving their body in space. It’s a big disappointment.

Learning how to cope with disappointment is a lifelong struggle that we all face. The challenge is always how to make lemonade out of lemons. Acknowledge and validate his feelings of sadness, but ask him how can he make good use of this time? Let him come up with ideas. He’s much more likely to implement one of his own ideas than one of yours. Perhaps he will decide to increase his strength and agility in interesting ways.

Paul Schoenfeld is a clinical psychologist at The Everett Clinic. His Family Talk blog can be found at www.everettclinic.com/family-talk-blog.

Talk to us

More in Life

You’ve never seen anything like this woman’s crafting room

Everett resident and retired teacher Melissa Halferty loves all things red, vintage and Frida Kahlo.

Sarah Feinberg will perform as SYLVI, her solo singer-songwriter project, for Everett Music Initiative’s HOMEBODIES streaming series. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)
Streaming concerts help fill a local music void in Everett

HOMEBODIES, hosted by Everett Music Initiative’s Facebook page, will feature performances by local artists.

Four easy-to-grow vegetables you should plant in your garden

If you plant these perennial crops now, you’ll be harvesting their bounty by next year. And every year after that.

Videos offer virtual art lessons during coronavirus shutdown

Mukilteo resident Christine Awad Schmalz is posting instructional videos twice a week on Facebook.

Great Plant Pick: Crocus ‘Goldilocks,’ Goldilocks crocus

This large-flowering bulb features golden blooms with a splash of burgundy on the outer petals.

Pottery sandwich looks good enough to eat — except for the frog

This David Gilhooly sculpture sold for $2,125. He added frogs to his artwork as a running joke.

‘Queen of bluegrass’ to perform in Darrington this summer

Rhonda Vincent is among the headliners who will play at the Darrington Bluegrass Festival July 17-19.

What to stream: ‘Mark Ruffalo Investigates’ movie marathon

Watch “Zodiac,” “Spotlight” and “Dark Waters,” in which the actor plays real-life investigators.

The Camano Wildlife Habitat Project will host a presentation on “Gardening for Pollinators and Birds,” April 15 on Camano Island. (Mike Benbow)
Home and garden events and resources around Snohomish County

Events listed here are scheduled to happen after April 6, when Gov.… Continue reading

Most Read