As the weeks in lockdown, and time spent away from friends and activities they love, continue to roll on you may notice your young tween and teenager retreating into themselves, becoming grumpier and more difficult to connect with.

You may be tempted to leave them alone and give them space to deal with their feelings. However, a recent survey by Common Sense Media suggests your tween needs you to ask them how they are, and to create calm and stability when they are faced with a lot of uncertainty.

A big ask, considering you probably feel just as stressed and anxious about what’s happening in the world.

How to help your child deal with stress

The survey found that, in addition to their schoolwork, children between 13 and 17 are stressing about their family’s health and financial future, and are actually following and seeking out news to stay updated on the impact the virus is having.

These are concerns and stressors we are all experiencing, so the advice is that you as the parent acknowledge these fears, loss of routine and important times or events (competitions, plays, dances, outings planned with friends) and discuss them openly with your kids.

An important part of managing these fears is monitoring the news your child consumes. Video calls, social media and messaging platforms are being used much more now, and by the way this seems to be a positive, the teens and tweens surveyed see this connection as vital, an emotional need being fulfilled. However, you need to prevent them from consuming an overload of worrying, and even fake or misguided, information.

How to actually help your child

How do you do this with a grumpy, stressed out and emotionally drained kid? By going back to Waldorf basics: rhythms.

The beauty of this is that it will take very little work from you to give your children the gift of knowing exactly what comes next, when so little is certain right now.

Institute and follow daily rhythms: morning physical activity, tidying, breakfast, learning, lunch, screen time for social interaction, learning, free time for reading, play or hobbies, dinner.

And weekly rhythms: Maybe you want to clean the floors on Mondays, or bake bread, or cook easy-to-freeze meals for the week, and perhaps Saturdays are art appreciation days or lazy couch potato days. It really is all about finding what works for your family and sticking to it.

Keep learning front and centre

The added benefit is that you will be honouring your child’s (perhaps unspoken) need and craving to learn by creating and enabling the space and time for this as a family. So, while you’re taking care of your family, the learning takes care of itself.

You can’t possibly answer all their questions or tell them that everything is going to be okay. But what you can do is listen to and acknowledge their fears and feelings while sharing breakfast. That’s what they’ll remember.

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