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Handling big feelings during lockdown 101

Lockdown we meet again - the kids are home from school and childcare, they can’t see their friends or go to the playground. Your partner’s home more than usual, and on top of the full-house, you’re both trying to work from home! I can feel the tension just writing this!

It’s likely feelings will get big and tempers will be lost.


So… How do we handle these feelings?


Firstly notice when you need a break as this is going to ensure we are able to stay calm to meet and hold our children's feelings.


If your children are having a hard time, here are some tips to get you through:

  1. Information Children need information, it helps their brains and nervous system to know what is happening. Even us as adults like to know what is happening and coming up, so give you child /children as much information as you can, plan out the day. For example; 7am-8am Breakfast 8-9.30am Exercise with Mum outside (walk, bike ride) while Dad is working in the study 9.30am Morning Tea and a Family game 10am - 11.30am Play / school work with Dad supervising, Mum is doing work in the study. This will make it clear and help their little brains to know what is coming, especially when parents are working from home, which is new for everyone.

  2. Needs Children have physical needs (food, water, closeness etc) but also the need to express their feelings. So if crying happens, know that it is normal. I will be sharing more over the coming week about feelings, but for now if they are crying, try to remain calm and centred yourself, then get down on their level, offer empathy, listen and validate their experience. Saying something like "I am here, I'm listening" can make all the difference.

  3. Play A child's language is play, so remembering to prioritise play during the next seven days can make a huge difference to the mood of the house. Creating regular play breaks will help keep everyone connected during this time. Following your child's ideas, bringing your warmth, eye contact and love to the game will fill their cup up for sure!


What about talking about the COVID virus?

Here’s some tips to make talking about the virus with your kids easier for you and them:

  • Try to keep things age appropriate and simple. Explain the virus in simple terms ie ‘Its a virus that spreads easily and can make people quite sick so we need to stay home to keep everyone safe’.

  • If you have lots of fear, or are worried about the virus or lockdown, make sure you are getting the support you need, as our children will feel this in us. Speaking to a friend or partner about your worries will help to shift this before talking with your child. Also if your mind is racing my favourite app for centring and coming back into balance is Insight Timer - there are literally 1000's of free guided meditations on here and even five minutes can make a huge difference to how I feel.

  • If your child is worried, concerned or developing some anxiety around the virus and all the constant lockdown talk, then I suggest tackling this with Attachment Play.

Attachment Play

Attachment Play is a form of play where we are helping our children through their fears using laughter. So you can play 'The Virus' or play 'Lockdown' and then follow your child's lead.

Maybe they will put a mask on and pretend to be the virus and chase you around the house. You as the parent, then run away and pretend to be scared. When your child laughs, you repeat. The laughter helps to shift their feelings around the virus. This can also be done for mask wearing if they are scared of others wearing masks, or even hand washing. Whatever they come up with in the play session, make sure you as the parent are in the less powerful role and the child is the more powerful one, this is called a power-reversal game and will help them to express and work through their fears.

You can read more about Attachment Play here.



Most importantly, please reach out if you have questions.



I’ll be talking more about these concepts over the coming week in email, on the blog and on socials, as well as in the up-coming, six week parenting course Little Bodies Big Hearts.

Shelley x

© 2021 Shelley Clarke

I acknowledge the Kaurna people on whose traditional land I live and work, and pay respect to Elders past and present. I recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. I acknowledge that they are of continuing importance to the Kaurna people living today.