We’re all dealing with tough stuff right now. Covid-19 is hard on all of us, and it’s especially taking a toll on our kids. Staying at home, missing out on milestones and friends, worrying about all that’s happening in the world—it’s overwhelming and scary for anyone, and especially children. The uncertainty on top of it all can lead to feelings of sadness, worries, fears, anxiety, irritability, and other tough feelings and behaviors. Many kids are feeling it—and we have ways to help.
These symptoms can feel so tough to manage—and the whole family can feel it. Together we can start to get you some relief. To help you manage your child’s symptoms before your appointment, we wanted to share some strategies you can start using today.
One effective exercise we like is based on reframing negative thoughts. It’s called “Blue to True.” Cute, right? It really can help! Try this out to help your child to understand that their thoughts directly influence their feelings, and to identify unrealistic negative thoughts. This is an important part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that is proven to effectively reduce anxiety and sadness for children.
First, sit down with your child and jot down the negative thoughts they’re having. When you have come up with a list of 4-5 thoughts, take a few moments to discuss them with your child and introduce the following acronym: BLUE
- B Blaming myself: Taking too much personal responsibility for negative events
- L Looking for the bad news: Paying attention only to the negative information and ignoring the positive information
- U Unhappy guessing: Expecting bad outcomes when we don’t really know how things will turn out.
- E Exaggerating: Making a things seem worse than they really are
Now look back at the list and see where you and your child can apply any of these. It can help to tell your child that when thoughts are overly negative, it can be like looking at the world through dark sunglasses—and we don’t want that! Look through each of the BLUE thoughts and explore where those thoughts might not be based in reality. It can be a thought, but it may not be true!
Together, you can then brainstorm other ways to think through these situations that may be more realistic and might help them to feel less sad. One way to help change the thought—try asking your child what they would say to a good friend who told them they were thinking or feeling the same thing!
We’ve seen this be helpful for many children. It may take a little while, but it can really help! We know this is tough stuff, and we’re with you every step of the way. We can’t wait to start moving forward, together. See you soon!