Weeks into COVID-19 and you are likely experiencing restlessness—the grownups as well as the kids. If you are like most families, you are finding cumulative stress is expressing itself in all kinds of ways and directed at those who are close by—our quarantine team. While normal and expected, it is none-the-less unpleasant and can add to the general level of frustration. To address this challenge, we invite you to make add another team member. Afterall, the more the merrier, right?
- A box, preferably a tissue box (can also be a box from a delivery or a shoebox)
- Construction paper, colors of your choosing
- Assorted shapes, decorations, craft materials
- Your imagination!
- When making your Quarantine Beast be sure to carefully remove the plastic lining surround the opening of the tissue box (if there is one).
- Carefully cut a secret door, opposite the opening and create a pull to easily open and close this door.
- Decorate the box by taping or gluing construction paper to each side.
- Add shapes, decoration, and other “parts” to the beast using what you have around the house. Try to give it a mouth at the opening of the box, and eyes of some sort.
- When it is finished place your Beast where it is accessible and put a pen or pencil and small pieces of paper nearby.
How it Works
Decide what the Quarantine Beast likes to eat. It absolutely loves chowing down on troubles and worries, it also likes to sink its teeth into some juicy anger. And, like most people it has a sweet tooth for gratitude—those things for which we are thankful. When someone is worried, frustrated or thankful, simply remind them to, “Feed the Beast.” Do not discuss the worry, frustration or gratitude in that moment. Simply acknowledge it, write it down and feed it to the Beast. (For parents particularly, avoid addressing outbursts or interruption that often accompanies feelings of worries and frustration. Calmly acknowledge the feeling and remind your child to, “Feed the Beast.”)
Note: You may find you need to make three Beasts, one for each: Worries, frustrations and gratitude!
Schedule a time each day (ideally after dinner and not too close to bedtime) to open the secret door, dump our everything the Beast consumed that day, and take turns sharing the worries, or frustrations or gratitude. Talk about feelings and what caused them. See how others in the family feel the same way about the same things. And, share ideas about agreed ways to handle worries, frustrations or gratitude.
Why it works
The Quarantine Beast uses two basic coping techniques: Compartmentalization and Self-Regulation. When you are feeling worried, frustrated or grateful it is important to acknowledge these feelings, but you do not have to address them right then and there. Feeding the Beast acknowledges the feeling but also allows us not to have to carry it inside ourselves where it can fester. The Beast holds the feelings for us providing some immediate relief.
Scheduling time each day to discuss feelings helps us self-regulate. It first reminds us that it is our responsibility to take care of our feelings and that we have the power to do so. Acknowledging the feeling and allowing the Beast to hold it for us is the second step. The third step of self-regulation is taking time to address our feelings when cooler minds are present, allowing perspective while not being in the heat of the moment.