Dr. Nicole Ferguson says she is finding that both children and adults are having some level of anxiety related to this pandemic. She says it is important to know that our children are also experiencing these anxieties whether it be around school, the possibility of virtual learning, not seeing their friends and also just the overall uncertainty around this virus has altered everyone’s way of life including our kids.
Mel says it is very real fears for kids, but parents have all of their kids fears and all of theirs on top of that. What do you say to families? Dr. Nicole says it is difficult and a very real situation and we do find that it is very difficult for adults to relate to what our children are going through because as adults we may have more complex issues, but it is very important to understand that children’s brains developmentally are in the early stages and all of the skills that we learn as adults, kids don’t typically have and so we are doing critical thinking skills decision making; all the things that really make us confident in moving forward in these unprecedented times are really what children don’t have. She says they don’t have the coping skills, the resiliency that we have built up over time so as adults we really have to sit down and talk with our children about what is going on, the emotions they are experiencing and validate those emotions. She says a great way to do that is by sitting down with your families and kind of discussing what is going on at the moment. Dr. Nicole says children need that kind of safe open space to talk about their feelings and I think the best part of it all is that we can use it as an opportunity to kind of model for our children, how we as adults handle emotions, how we regulate our own emotions and how we cope with them and I think that is the best learning tool of all.
Dr. Nicole says so many parents feel alone in that they are juggling all these challenges from the pandemic and they are also trying to care for their child and their emotions and says I know that everyone wants the best for their child so we are going to have experiences where we feel like we didn’t do the best that we wanted to do or maybe we let everyone down but not to beat ourselves up for that. She says nobody is perfect so we can model that to our children as well by saying, hey, I was upset and this is what happened and we are all anxious and we can use that as a reason to talk to our children about our emotions and how we are feeling.
Dr. Nicole Ferguson is the author of Unstoppable Joy. For more information visit unstoppablejoybook.com
Dr. Nicole Ferguson is available for in person or virtual counseling sessions through Attollo Mental Health Services in Amherst. Call 716.406.7473 to schedule an appointment.
You can also follow Dr. Nicole Ferguson on Facebook @doctornicoleferguson