Supporting Children and Young People Emotionally During the Coronavirus Crisis

by Nora Smyth Integrative Counsellor

What can we do to support our children and Young people at this difficult time? To help them feel less stressed or anxious, confused or frustrated and possibly scared, angry and sad. And in turn to help parents, teachers, caregivers and workers who might be feeling exactly the same but with the added pressures of worrying about their families, helping children with their schoolwork, working from home, financial strains from possible job losses, caring for relatives and also missing their friends and family members. It can feel so overwhelming when we factor in all the losses we are experiencing and the huge uncertainty of the road ahead.

In counselling the term ‘containment’ is about providing a safe place for individuals to address and look at their feelings, feelings that prior to counselling could be too frightening or difficult to bring to the surface. I believe it is an important one to remember at this difficult time. We may feel at this time of crisis that creating a safe emotional space for ourselves and our children is challenging. In response to this my suggestion would be to allow ourselves some time and space to communicate our own fears, worries and mixed feelings. To do this in a way that feels right for us – like talking with a friend, family member, partner or a professional. Or to write down our fears and spend some time alone listening to our feelings. In helping ourselves we can gain strength to help our children.

If we are more open to talking and sharing our worries we automatically give our children permission to talk honestly about theirs. This is a big step in supporting them to feel better and can be a great opportunity to get closer to our children. Talk to them about how you’re feeling and what you do that helps you feel better and listen to what they have to say in return. Often they have better coping mechanisms than we do!