Most of us are more than a little concerned about the mental health of the kiddos that we care about during this pandemic. The natural resiliency of kids combined with the positive benefits of all the time spent together during quarantine (even though that may feel like way too much time at times!) is likely to help most kids digest the experience of this pandemic and continue to thrive. For some kids, however – especially kids who tend to be a bit more anxious or who may have experienced trauma earlier in life – this may be a particularly scary time with the potential for long-lasting effects.
As I thought about the kids that I love, my work as a therapist in this time, and some recent research from Johns Hopkins University, I began to develop a resource specifically designed to support kids and families as they deal with the Coronavirus pandemic.
Not just a coloring book, this therapist-designed activity book contains a combination of coloring pages, age-appropriate writing or drawing prompts, interactive family activities, and brief bits of kid-friendly wisdom on coping with big feelings.
Ever since I finished the mindful grounding deck, I’ve been hard at work on this (huge) little labor of love: A 25-page kid-friendly workbook designed for helping kids ages 4-10 process their experience of a world with COVID-19.
I’ve got a lot to say about this project, and I hope you’ll keep reading, but first, I want to let you know how you can get your hands on this resource – while supporting the ongoing development of similar resources:
How to get your copy:
Option #1. PATREON: Patrons of my work who subscribe to a print-media based tier will automatically receive a professionally printed copy in 7-10 days! All other patrons can print a free PDF copy or purchase the bound version at a deep discount.
Option #2. Purchase PDF and Print Your Own: Download the resource below, connect to a printer, and print your own! (Please respect my labor and note that the license limits the number of copies you may legally make.)
Option #3: Buy Directly from Lindsay: Pre-printed and shipped to you for free (within the US)! Click the button below:
The following section may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, these links help make my art sustainable.
Option #4: Bound Copy from Amazon: The COVID kid’s activity book is now at Amazon! To get a copy for your kids or kids you love, click here.
More about COVID Kid’s Activity Book:
The basis of the book is built on Johns Hopkins University’s groundbreaking 2019 study on Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs). In that study, data scientists identified 7 childhood experiences that correlated to good mental health in adults (in some cases, a 72% decrease in the likelihood of developing depression as an adult*). [read my visual sketchnote of the PCE study here]
While no activity book can create these experiences, each included activity invites kids to think about, act-out, draw, or talk with a parent about one of the PCE’s. The activities are designed to help kids understand and take-in how the adults in their life are keeping them safe, listening to how they feel, making meaningful new traditions while preserving old ones, and staying connected to non-family loved ones – 4 of 7 of the research-identified PCE’s.
Research is pretty clear that when families take time to talk about crises (including family, community, or global events), express feelings, and validate the experiences of each family member, kids develop greater emotional resilience and an increase in their ability to adapt to challenging circumstances. Experiencing an adult with healthy emotional regulation, taking part in shared activities, having space for meaning-making activities (like story telling, art making, and open ended play) and feeling supported all help give kids tools process and express emotional experiences.
When families connect and make space for these experiences during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a greater potential for kids to not just make it through unscathed, but to experience growth in their own emotional regulation and capacity to extend empathy to others.
How to use the activity book?
Ideally, it’s a resource for parents and kids to use together with or without siblings. Older kids can benefit from using it independently with just a little bit of help from an adult now and then.
Why now? Isn’t quarantine over?
Remember that feeling early in quarantine like time didn’t exist and days went by in a blur? That’s trauma. When something is too big, too much, or too intense to be able to take in and digest, it gets stuck and often there’s a difficulty to recall time “before” or anticipate a time “after.” Even if quarantine is in the “past” for you or your family, it may still be very much in the present for sensitive kids.
Using this activity book as the frame to write your family’s story, and then reviewing that story regularly like a bedtime story, can help kids organize all the messy chaos of the pandemic into a linear story of safety and resiliency.
What is it?
It’s a journal, a time capsule, a scrapbook.
Part coloring book, part kid-friendly journal, and part family scrapbook, the COVID Kid’s Activity Book is filled with fill-in-the-blank prompts to be a fun activity that gets young brains thinking about being safe at home with the family during this sometimes scary time.
A pandemic scrapbook may sound like the worst EVER quarantine activity, but for kids, creating a scrapbook about your family’s experience through a season that may seem very chaotic can be a roadmap for them to make sense of what’s happening and place it in the context of being cared for by their family. Just like how many children want to hear a storybook read over and over so they can make sense of all that it contains, telling your pandemic-story together, with intention, can help shape it into a narrative that tells the story of your family’s resilience.
Include photographs of loved ones together and art about being safe at home. Record memorable events, milestones, and achievements. Write down honestly what it’s like to be together right now.
Stories are how we move in the world. As adults, the stories we’ve been told and the stories we tell ourselves are what shape our self-esteem, our expectations of others, and the ways we navigate life. When caring adults work with kids to help them organize what they are experiencing into a narrative, we get to help shape that story: guiding it toward a narrative of safety and protection even in uncertain times. In this collaborative storytelling, kids get the foundation and the tools to support mental health and resiliency.
I’m honored to create this resource for kids and families, and I encourage using it in whatever way works for you, your kid(s), and your family. I believe deeply that in a time like this, good parenting isn’t “making it okay,” it’s not sheltering them from all of the scariness, and it’s not making sure they are busy/educated/fed/entertained. Right now, being a good enough parent is helping kids know that they are not alone, they are loved, and they are part of a family that will get through this together.