Ashley Weir serves as Children’s Minister at FBC Corsicana. This is the second part of a series on partnering with parents during the coronavirus pandemic. Click here to view Part 1.
In Part 1 of Partnering with parents just went viral I talked about establishing platforms to communicate with and resource parents. I discussed the importance of keeping routines by providing programming content, as well as resourcing parents to talk about the virus with their kids. Lastly, we talked about being available to parents and kids to meet their emotional and mental health needs, this post will go into more detail on that and resources that are not church-related.
Equip parents to talk about and help their kids process the emotions during this time.
I think this is also going to be important for us as adults. While we should not live in fear, it is ok to feel and experience our own emotions. What matters is how we respond out of those emotions. Now, more than ever, we have to be conscious of our parents, kids’, and our own mental health. We were not designed to be isolated people; we were created for community. There will be a lot of emotions to process. Know that Texas Baptist has people, like Director of Counseling Services Katie Swafford, to help connect us with resources regarding mental health.
Experts are not the only option to help our kids process emotions. Parents can be vital in helping their kids when equipped. For instance, I have encouraged our parents to have our kids journal each day. For one, these are historical days we are living in and journaling will help kids remember all the events that transpired during this time. Secondly, this is a great way to process feelings and emotions. Another great way came from a counselor I meet with regularly.One day, she gave me the feelings wheel. The feeling wheel has been tremendously helpful in really digging down deep into what emotion(s) is being experienced. We can encourage parents to talk with their kids about what the emotion feels like. Some useful dialogue might be where in their body do they feel it, is it warm and fuzzy, or hard and cold. Encourage parents to let their kids describe the emotion in as much detail as possible.
These things will also help kids with their writing, vocabulary and processing emotions. Kids who may not be able to write should be encouraged to film them talking through their emotions. Do this activity daily to document what was done during this season. This is also something we can encourage parents to do for themselves. We all will need things to keep our sanity during this time. I believe God gave us these emotions and we shouldn’t run from them. Instead, embrace them, feel them and sit with them, but respond out of the emotion appropriately.
The conversation guides below will also help with this discussion:
- Pre-school and Elementary school in English and Spanish - Parent Cue: Crisis conversation guides for Preschool
- High school in English and Spanish - Parent Cue: Anxiety Conversation Guides
- High School in English and Spanish - Focus on the Family: How to Help your Kids Process Tragic News
- Feelings Wheel
Provide parents with activities and resources that are not church related.
Parents are suddenly thrust into being their kids’ daycare provider and teacher. For some parents this is second hand nature. For other parents, this is their hardest challenge. Post things on your platforms that provide ideas on other activities and resources. A vast majority of organizations and people are rallying together to provide free resources to help parents in this time. As you come across something, share it to your parents.
I have a parent who is a teacher and she planned out the next day for her kids with activities and links. I then re-shared it in the group for other parents to see. This is another great way to capitalize on empowering other people in your church to use their skillsets. Lean into those teachers. Create a list of teachers in your congregation (with their permission), what they teach or have taught, and provide their contact information so they can help students out during this time. Also, remind them of simple activities, such as building a fort, playing hide & go seek, baking a cake, and writing letters to local nursing homes on lock down. There are too many to list, but here are a few I have shared:
- Books or games to purchase:
- Big Book of Family Games: 101 Original Family & Group Games that Don't Need Charging
- The Floor Is Lava: And 99 More Games for Everyone, Everywhere
- Nat Geo Action Journal: Talk Like a Pirate, Analyze Your Dreams, Fingerprint Your Friends, Rule Your Own Country, and Other Wild Things to Do to Be Yourself
- The Ultimate Book of Family Card Games
- Free Resources: -
Lastly, don’t forget to breathe! Breathe in four seconds, hold four seconds, out four seconds, hold again four seconds and repeat. God is still in control and will always be. He will guide us through this time and beyond. We just have to take it one moment, hour, day and week at a time. Lean into Him, and be open to what He wants us to learn in this unforeseen season. Let His love be the thing that really goes viral.