Tips for Parents to Get Through Covid-19 Pandemic
Dear parent, you have many roles during this Covid-19 pandemic. You are a teacher, cook, personal trainer, and entertainer for your child. This is a lot! I want to thank all of you for being there for your children when they most need you. You are all doing your best, thank you.
Many of you are staying at home with your children and are spending more time with them. While this can be a fun experience, it may feel overwhelming at times. The more you interact with each other, the number of positive and negative interactions between you and your children will increase. This situation is expected and unavoidable. My goal is to help you maximize your satisfaction in spending time with your children. Here is what you can do:
- Learn Power of Reframing: The language matters. The meaning that you are making out of being at home with your children is affected by the words that you choose to define this situation. Reframing is a powerful technique which helps you to make a different meaning out of your personal experience.
“I am stuck at home with my kids”, let’s reframe this sentence together. Here is an example statement that you can use, but feel free to create your own! Instead of this, you can say, “I decided to stay at home with my children” or “I am safe at home with my kids” or “I am choosing to spend more time at home with my children”. Remember, you are not locked up, you are not a prisoner. You decided to stay at home to stay safe, to stop spreading the virus. At the end of the day, this is your decision and you are in control.
When you use the first statement, your child may feel like they are becoming a burden. Just don’t forget that you didn’t ask for, and you were not ready for, the quarantine but neither were they. Your child is also missing their friends, teachers, school and all the important meanings they create in their life. It is important to allow them to miss their life outside of home and their family.
Let me give you another example for reframing. Let’s say you have the thought “My child misses her friends. She doesn’t want to spend time with us”. Instead of this, you can say, “My child enjoys spending time with us, but she misses her friends” or “It’s understandable that my child misses her friends. It doesn’t mean that she doesn’t want to spend time with us”.
- Figure Out What Your Child Needs: This part may be challenging, but let’s make it easier. To figure out what your child needs, you don’t need to be a detective. You don’t need to try to read their mind. Depending on the age of your child, they are going to find a way to let you know what they need when you ask them. Continue being curious, and willing to listen. While a 9-year old can easily tell you what they need from you, a 3-year old may draw a picture for the things that they miss. Play and art, such as drawing, singing, and games are helpful tools for children to express themselves.
Every child is different, and their needs are different based on their age. While you are asking your child what they need from you, please do not hesitate to let them know what you need from them.
If you are staying at home with a teenage child, they may not tell you what they need from you. This is because of their need to be autonomous and this is expected during this developmental stage. As a parent of a teenager, you can only let them know that you are available and accessible for them. This means, they can talk to you whenever they want and you are willing to give them your undivided attention. Let them know that you are here for them if they want to talk or spend time with you. This is a reassurance for them to realize that you recognize their autonomy, but are also able to be present as a supportive parent.
- Lower the Bar: This doesn’t mean you should let go of all your expectations from your child. It suggests that we are experiencing an unusual time and it is okay to be flexible during this time period. Eating healthier, having regular sleep schedule, doing math after breakfast may not be the priority during this time. Your priority is to make sure that your child is safe. It is okay to eat unhealthy snacks occasionally. It is okay to go to bed a little bit later than usual or watching a little bit of TV after breakfast. If you are making plans for your child, I highly recommend making a daily schedule with them by including them in the planning. Before you start your day, you can ask your child what the first thing is that they want to do. Their answer may surprise you. For example, if your child wants to play hide and seek with you before breakfast – add this to your to-do list! The “No games before breakfast” rule can be temporarily lifted.
Bonus tip: Remember you don’t need to entertain your children all the time. Children can get bored and they should get bored. When they know what options are available to them, they are going to figure out what to do. The function that boredom serves is leading us to be more creative. This is a perfect time for your children to learn to come up with their own solutions to their own problems, if boredom is a problem that they struggle with. Your job is to remind them of their options rather than telling them what they should do. For example, you can tell your child, “Here are the movies you can watch. Your Legos are under your bed. Your toys are in the box. And here are your art supplies”. If your child has a short attention span, or is struggling with anxiety, I suggest that you limit their options. This way, they won’t feel overwhelmed and they are going to feel more in control. For instance, you can tell them, “You can watch a movie or play with your Legos. It is your call”. If your child is still struggling with making their decision, try to be more specific. Here is a better example: “You can watch Frozen or build a house with your Legos”. The decision is still theirs.
Thank you for supporting your child during this pandemic. If you need additional support, please contact me and schedule an appointment. You are not alone in this.