Helping Kids Cope During the Pandemic – Playfully!
By Ariyon Fountaine, MSW, LSW
It has been a long couple of months to say the least. We are still in the middle of a pandemic and schools have been closed since March. Although summer is winding down, schools may remain virtual for the foreseeable future. For some, this could mean lots of family time with their kids and figuring out how to entertain them. I can only imagine how many times your child has said, “I am so bored!”
In a different circumstance they could play outside with friends and have play dates or sleepovers. With the quarantine and social distancing requirements, it becomes hard to socialize with friends. Plus adding a mask – this is a very different summer! This sudden change in the way they socialize can cause children to experience an array of emotions, including frustration, anger, and disappointment.
We at CFCE understand that this change is hard for children, which is why we have been teaching parents and children healthy ways to cope. An In-Home Scavenger Hunt is a safe and fun way to introduce your child to their coping skills, which is not only important to help them during this difficult time but it is also a lifelong skill to have. Scavenger hunts are still one of my favorite childhood memories. Your child will have fun finding items within their house without realizing how therapeutic this activity is. Not to mention it’s FREE – free fun that helps them build coping skills sounds like a win-win to me!
In the detailed video above, I challenged any child to find 5 items within their home that can make them feel safe, happy and loved. This also included a picture or person of someone who embodies all those same feelings.
Now let me walk you through the 5 items that were in my house. You can use this as an example when explaining to your children the activity.
A blanket – I love being cozy and warm. Yes, I know it’s summertime but cozying up with a blanket makes you feel safe. Not pictured in the video, but if you have it a weighted blanket that is a good alternative. Fun fact: Weighted blankets are good with those who have anxiety and have a calming effect when you sleep.
A book – Reading is one of my favorite hobbies. When I need a mental break from the world, this is my go to. Dr. Seuss is a classic and always a good choice. After showing you their favorite book, ask your child to read it to you.
Chocolate is my favorite. I want you to find your favorite snack/candy that gives you a mood booster. We all deserve something sweet to make us happy (within moderation of course).
Person I love/miss – You will see a cute picture of my Godson and I. I love spending time with him. When I can’t see him, videos and Facetime are a great alternative. Call someone you love and tell them you miss them. Trust me it will make you feel better. Connection during this time is so important, even if we cannot be together.
Stuffed animal/pet – In my video you will notice a large stuffed animal.This was my alternative since I do not have a pet. If you are a pet owner, I strongly suggest snuggling up with them instead. Pets are very therapeutic and offer unconditional love.
This was just one idea – you can create your own variations. For younger children, you can include a color scavenger hunt. Another option is an art scavenger hunt or a five senses scavenger hunt — the possibilities are endless! I hope you found this helpful and I would love to hear if you tried this with your kids. As always, stay safe!
-Ariyon Fountaine, MSW, LSW