COVID 19- Surviving Coronageddon: A Note to Parents with Tips to Help
While scrolling through Facebook and other social media platforms, we notice a plethora of posts depicting stressed parents, unruly children, and homeschooling catastrophes. We see everything from memes with images of children taped to a floor to adults overwhelmed, exasperated and pushed to the brink of their sanity. While posted in jest (or at least we hope), the humorous satire conveys the gripping role anxiety and uncertainty play while the struggling American family is held hostage by the invisible restraints of Coronavirus.
Suddenly our dismissal of concerns about long term plans and decision making falls short of satisfying the once predictable options and cliché “you have time” with a predictable set of options for a secure future. What will all this mean for Colleges? The workplace? The entire social system? . . . all once the pandemic surge has passed. When a tsunami hits, we measure the damage not only by the damage it brings, but by the damage it leaves. How do you help your children when you cannot tell them the waves are over?
Unfortunately, we cannot control most of the stressors our children will face in their lifetime, including that which we face today. The best we can do is mitigate the long-term impact each new stressor brings them. We do this by being thoughtful about our decisions and reactions now. It is not living through a pandemic that will affect our children when they are adults, it is there experience of HOW they lived through the pandemic that matters. When one son asks how to handle getting through this, we have to let him know we have not sailed this ocean and have to figure it out. When our eldest proclaims “I hate this thing!” . . . we can show our shared sentiments with a “I know buddy, we agree.” Since understanding abstract thoughts and ideas alone may not provide immediate relief, the following are some ideas that we hope will simply start a dialogue:
BEHAVIORAL ISSUES: Unfortunately, there are no books titled “What to expect during a pandemic”. So, we are left to rely on the information we already know. Children respond to stress in different ways. Some are more clingy, some more irritable, some withdrawn, and some bed wet. Determining the cause of the behaviors is our best bet to managing and resolving behavioral issues.
1. Is there any pattern to the behavior (ie. mornings, aftermath, etc.)- if so, this may be a time of stress or worry.
2. What does your child know and understand about the pandemic?
a. Asking this question provides opportunities to correct misinformation and provide comfort for fears they may have.
b. Consider providing responses consistent with their development and cognitive understand.
c. Brutal honesty is not always the best policy. Adult information can be very scary for young children.
d. Focus on what they/we can do. Follow the many resources on maintaining health at home.
3. How does your child feel about being away from teachers, friends, relatives? Consider Facetime, Skype, Zoom, Whatsapp, or other ways of connecting them with friends and family. 4. How does your child typically manage disruption in routines? Creating a daily routine can be helpful for adults and children. Increasing options and being creative with ideas sparks interest and may provide structure to the newly found open slate in everyday schedules. (Helps the parents too!)
HOME SCHOOLING: It’s not about perfection. Anticipate lots of imperfection from yourself and your child.
1. Consider timing how long your child is able focus on work. A minute or two before that threshold is a good time to take a break and reward yourself and your child! When you are both ready, resume school.
2. Accept yourself and your child on days that seem particularly challenging.
3. Choose the path of least resistance. Come up with a plan and schedule together.
LOTS OF PLAY: Movement is important. Movement in fresh air even better. Mindful movement outside the best! Take a walk, notice everything around you. Talk to your child about what they see, how the air feels to them and what they hear. Play is an important part of developing. LIMIT EXPOSURE: There is a difference between being informed and being inundated! Nothing good comes from watching many hours of news reports about a terrible event. How we manage our exposure and stress has a direct impact on how our children will manage their own.
1. Consider recording shows so you can fast forward past commercials and PSA’s about COVID 19.
2. Consider playing games or doing alternate activities to TV and computer time.
3. Limit behavior that lends itself to catastrophizing thinking such as social media.
Turn The Page remains available for TeleTherapy session for children and adults. Contact Turn The Page at (973) 728-5111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.