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kids anxiety coronavirus

Watching my two littles at odds again this morning is causing me anxiety and making me wonder if everything going on in the world is creating this animosity between them. I am noticing a definite shift in their moods—their tempers are shorter with each other (and me), and they seem to be retreating into their own little worlds more frequently.

Could all this 24/7 coronavirus talk and social distancing be affecting them? Do my kids really understand what is going on?

Short answer: They probably do. Kids of all ages can become anxious—not all will—but you can help them cope and restore their perception of the world as a safe place.

When parents are focusing on stressful events with frequent reminders, like updates and images, it can cause levels of anxiety that can create an atmosphere of uncertainty that is hard to escape. And when everyone is under the same roof for extended periods of time, it can be tough for littles to get away from consuming these fears.

The good news is that this anxiety is usually temporary and resolves itself when security is established or life resumes its normal pattern. Think: When kids go back to school and are able to have some play dates with friends.

While your child might not be watching the news, they are watching you and picking up on your verbal and non-verbal cues. So even if you are being really careful about what you say, your kids are by nature very attuned to how you say it—fast, high and loud, or hushed and secretive. In short, children can pick up on your anxiety and reflect it back to you in their own innocent ways.

In a study published in the Journal of Dental Research, researchers found that maternal anxiety affected the behavior of young children. Even though these kids were experiencing a dental procedure, it found that kids mirror what parents display around them—in this case, calm or anxiety.

During trying times, it is practically impossible to shield your kids from what is going on and how you are feeling about events outside of your control—and theirs. So it's good to know what to do if it is all weighing too much on them.

Here's what to look for:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Increased irritability + anger
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sadness
  • Upset for no apparent reason
  • Headaches + stomach aches

Here's what you can do:

  • Address anxiety with your child to help them notice the changes in their body and behavior.
  • Help them understand that feelings of anxiety are normal and that everyone's behavior or mood changes when they feel this way. It is their body's way of letting them know that they are uncomfortable.
  • You may be feeling anxious yourself, and it's okay to share your concerns to demonstrate that it is normal to feel uncertain and upset—but do so within limits.
  • Help your child relax by talking with them to find out what about the situation is making them feel anxious.
  • Have them draw a picture of how they are feeling if they are having trouble telling you.
  • Create an atmosphere of control by modeling coping behaviors for your kids to follow, like deep breathing and meditation. Call out what they already do well and can do to help themselves.
  • Give them extra cuddles and comfort to remind them that you are always there for them, even when stressful things happen.
  • Call your pediatrician if their anxiety prevents them from doing things they normally enjoy or you notice a change in sleep habits or appetite—or anything else abnormal and prolonged.

You are the most important influence on your child's ability to manage and recover from their fears. By staying engaged and playing to your strengths and theirs, you can provide them with the language to label this feeling and let them know that it's normal, and just like the stress, it won't last forever.

Bottom line: Kids can get anxious, even when you are a good mom. How you react can help your little one grow through anxiety and build their resilience in the face of future stressful events. You've got this.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

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5 brilliant products that encourage toddler independence

Help your little one help themselves.

One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.

$25

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.

$29

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.

$18

Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.

$29

BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.

$20

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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This viral post about the 4th trimester is exactly what new mamas need right now

"We are alone. Together. You are surrounded all the other mothers who are navigating this tender time in isolation. You are held by all of us who have walked the path before you and who know how much you must be hurting. You are wrapped in the warm embrace of mama earth, as she too settles into this time of slowness and healing."

Artist and teacher Catie Atkinson at Spirit y Sol recently shared a beautiful drawing of a new mom crying on a couch—leaking breasts, newborn baby, pile of laundry and what we can only assume is cold coffee, included. Everything about the image is so real and raw to me—from the soft stomach to the nursing bra and the juxtaposition of the happy wallpaper to the palpable vulnerability of the mother—I can almost feel the couch underneath me. I can feel the exhaustion deep in this woman's bones.

My heart feels the ache of loneliness right alongside hers. Because I remember. I remember the confusion and uncertainty and love and messy beauty of the fourth trimester so well. After all, it's etched in our minds and bodies forever.

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