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By Hanley Foundation Prevention Specialist Susan Makowski

 What we model, our children will mirror is a powerful statement.  It is true in so many areas: the way we talk to and treat people, the way we handle stressful and difficult situations and most immediately the way we are dealing with the current Coronavirus situation.

In order to promote the best in our children, we will need to strive to be the best versions of ourselves we can be.  In these troubled times, that is most certainly not an easy task.  Remaining positive and focusing on blessings is one way.  Perhaps, you could even make a game of “looking for positive things” with your children. 

Some valuable tools to share with your children right now could be some proven coping techniques.  Relaxation and breathing exercises are wonderful. You can use these methods for various reasons including calming and refocusing.

The 4-7-8 breathing technique, also known as “relaxing breath,” involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds.  The 4-7-8 breathing technique requires a person to focus on taking a long, deep breath in and out. Rhythmic breathing is a core part of many meditation and yoga practices as it promotes relaxation.

Another avenue could be taking a page from Tony Robbins’ book.  If you’ve ever been exposed to Tony Robbins, you’ve probably heard him say, “Motion creates emotion.” If the kids are bored, get them up and do something unique that they can’t do in an ordinary school day. How about a quick walk outside, a couple of minutes on the swing set or trampoline, a Tik Tok dance contest or some gymnastics, throw a ball, play a musical instrument, whatever, just get some positive motion going and watch their mood change. Remember you lead they will follow!

Let’s face it, even as parents right now, no one really seems to have a full grasp on the situation we are in and how everything is going to play out over the coming days and weeks.  Being attentive to your children’s need to have some sort of structure and certainty will be important. They may not even know why they are feeling anxious or scared so active listening is another important skill we want to model for our children.  The course, “Active Parenting,” teaches:  

  1. Pay Attention
  2. Acknowledge what the child is saying
  3. Show Empathy

When listening to your child, listen for more than just the facts, also listen for feelings. Be sure to identify and respond to those feelings as well as the words they say.

The way our children see us responding to this crisis will directly affect the way they will respond in turn. Many of us are going to be in a position where we can spend more quality time with our children and families than ever before, so let’s make the best use of it.