In light of being in hospital with my son last week and from watching him and listening to his thoughts and questions while he has been unwell over the past 8 weeks, I have become much more aware of how much kids worry.
My son asked me questions like "Mum, what is cancer?" (he doesn't have it but obviously has heard a little about it) and "Will I ever be better?". He also had loads of tears from fear of the what he may have to experience and fear of many things that he had never experienced before. Most of the things he experienced over the last 8 weeks or more were new to him.
My son is also very sensitive for a 10 year old so at times when my words of reassurance weren't matching my body language of uncertainty, I'm sure he was able to identify my incongruence with his intuition.
I was very aware that we were all in unchartered territory and also very aware of my son's worry. I thought I would share the things I tried with my son to ease his worry.
1. We already have a daily bedtime routine that includes a type of recap of the day. We talk about what the best thing about our day was, what was the worse thing about our day (a great time for your child to share something that is worrying or bothering them if they aren't the sort who just blurts it out) and we always have a random question like what's the best smell we smelt that day. We always end the chat on a positive note.
2.Going for a slow stroll to the park or just getting out of the house to wander around the garden (we were fortunate enough to have some sunflower plants burst into flower during this time) is a great way to live in the present. Getting out into the fresh air and being distracted by nature along with a little vitamin D does wonders for adults and children alike.
3. I invited his friends over for a light play. As he wasn't infectious, this was also a way of distracting him and helping him live in the present.
4. I gave my son back massages with lavender oil and as he had tummy pain, I also gently massaged his stomach. The power of touch is brilliant for easing worry, especially coupled with relaxing essential oils.
5. I ran him warm baths at whatever time of the day he felt like them. Besides the comfort of the warm water on his tummy, relaxing in the bath is also great for easing stress and worry.
6. I encouraged him to swim. Again the water relieved his tummy pain and the fun and exercise took his mind off the worry(helped him to live in the present as kids do this extremely well in play).
7. I showed him patience, understanding and respect for privacy so that he felt he had a soft place to fall if he needed it (even if at times I myself really wanted to run and hide).
8. We played Monopoly and Uno as a family. This was not only fun but it also took away the worry and helped time to go quickly and bonded the family unit.
9. I told the truth. At times when I didn't have the answers or didn't know if this treatment was going to be the answer, I said so. That way my body language and my words were congruent and he could tell I was being honest with him. This helped him to trust me and trust that we were going to get through this together, no matter what it took and that I was on his side.
So next time something out of the ordinary is happening in your home, remember that your children are probably feeling it just as much, if not more than you. What ideas can you share with them to arm them with the ability to ease the worry? Maybe make a list of things they like to do that distracts them and that they enjoy (more than likely they will be able to be more present doing these things). Ask them what they would like to do and help them to do it. There are lots of solutions to reducing kids worry. Please comment if you have some solutions that I have left out or want to share any experiences of your own.