Anxiety has genetic links. Water has memory. Trauma is experienced inter-generationally.
We can pass our anxiety onto our children in mysterious and not yet well understood ways.
And, if you’re like me, you can also pass your anxiety onto your kids in overt, extremely obvious ways.
(See me on Monday, driving my eight-year-old to school after a few days being home due to a COVID-19-related school closure.
Me, Parenting Genius: “Bunny, how are you feeling about going back to school?”
She, Calm-child: “Fine. Do you think I’ll finish the 4th Harry Potter before the weekend?”
Me: “Are you sure there’s nothing you want to talk about?”
She: “My window’s open, mom! I wonder if I can catch a raindrop on my tongue.”
Me: “You’ve still got the sanitizer, right?”
She: “Mom! Yes! We’re here. Unlock the door so I can get out!”)
In trying to assess your child’s emotional state, it’s important to avoid inadvertently tripping up trouble. (I’m a self-taught parenting ‘expert’. Can you tell?!)
Until an hour ago, I did not know exactly how to do that. To be reassuring without activating! Now I’ve got a better grip thanks to my dear friend and co-worker Dana Sperber, LCSW. Apparently, Dana’s such a good therapist that just sharing an office space with me made her aware that my anxiety about my own child’s potential anxiety could get out of control. Thus, she sent me a child-appropriate COVID-19 anxiety-salve in the form of a pdf.
Check in it out HERE! It’s a reassuring, fact-based worksheet appropriate for school-age kids (and the anxiety-ridden adults who care for them). It helped tame the dragon inside of me while also providing reassurance to my little ones that no dragon need get fired-up inside of them. (It's available in Spanish, too!)
Major and generous thanks to the creator, Manuela Molina. Follow her in InstaG @mindheart.kids.
If you’ve got an already anxious child or even if you’re just trying to asses the situation, this worksheet is brilliant! If haven't had your fill and need more tips on how to avoid passing fears, worry, and overwhelm onto the little ones that love you check out this article from The Child Mind Institute. (If only I'd read it before I decided to talk society-halting viruses with my girl!)
Stay safe! And equally importantly, stay calm!
UPDATE: More Resources Managing COVID-19 Emotions
Centers for Disease Control: Conoravirus Diease 2019 Manage Anxiety & Stress
*I’m not a child psychologist. I just take advice from them… if you have serious concerns about your child’s anxiety, please reach out to a mental health professional.