By Nadine Briggs and Donna Shea
Note: A version of this article was originally published in the MGH Down Syndrome Program newsletter, COVID-19: Self-Care Saturdays on May 2, 2020.
In mid-March, the pandemic resulted in our physical social skills businesses, Simply Social Kids and the Peter Pan Center for Social & Emotional Growth, having to close. Both programs have since moved online. It felt like there was a tsunami headed our way and we were standing on the beach. What types of life saving devices do these kids need? How will we be able to provide life boats or even arm swimmies through Zoom? One thing was clear, they were going to need to be resilient and our training in resiliency coaching was going to guide us for weeks to come.
Tip #1 – Check In: The first step is to read what they need. Children and teens do not have the same thoughts as adults and if we assume that they do, we can inadvertently put our worries onto them. Ask your child to rate their happiness level on a scale from 1-10 with 1 = not happy and 10 = a really happy a few times a week. This is a great way to assess how things are going over time. If your child is reporting a 9 each day and then reports that they are a 7, you know that something influenced the points drop. This gives you an opportunity to discuss cause the 2 point drop. If a 10 point scale is too challenging for them, you can use a smaller scale or they can give you a thumber, a thumbs up, thumbs down or sideways so you have a sense of how they’re doing.
Tip #2 – Finding Calm – Being able to calm yourself is a skill that takes practice. There are many mindfulness apps, videos and podcasts that people can access to begin this daily practice. My favorite for children is the Mindful Powers app https://mindfulpowersforkids.com/. For adults, I suggest binaural beats music which can be found on YouTube https://youtu.be/66rm3suq-ks . Deep breathing, when practiced, can be a very effective tool for finding calm.
Here are some videos for:
Nelly mindful minute 1:07 https://tinyurl.com/yx5txkng
Power of one breath :47 https://tinyurl.com/yx5txkng
Progressive muscle relaxation 7:06 ttps://tinyurl.com/tkdh7bt
Tip #3: Fun and Laughter – Taking time for fun and even laughing with family and friends (even if online) can be a tremendous stress reliever. Certainly children need play but so do stressed adults. Here are some fun ways to socialize while physical distancing.
• Netflix Party
• Multi Player Games
• Group chats/Texting/FaceTime
• Steam Jackbox Games
• Virtual Game nights
• Online dance/karaoke parties
• Social Media
• Doodle challenges (Mo Willems)
• Online book groups
• Online arts & crafts clubs
• Dungeons and Dragons
• Scavenger Hunts
• Mafia Night
• Tabletop Simulator
• Game Pigeon (Apple phone only)
• Make up your own creative game
• House Party
Tip #4: Circle of Control – When the world feels out of control, re-focusing on what we have control over and what we don’t can give us clarity. We can control how we think about and react to the situation. We need to allow ourselves to have sad and mad moments but then we need to move beyond those feelings. Knowing that we can’t single handedly solve this problem gives us the freedom focus to on how handle our daily lives. Ultimately, we all have to accept what is and figure out what that looks like for our family.
For more on how to be resilient, get along better with others and handle strong feelings, check out the How to Make and Keep Friends book series on Amazon.com. https://tinyurl.com/y9awxoz3