By Melanie Brosnan, LCPC
The Pandemic | Parent Support.
This is Part 2 of our series on helping children cope with the pandemic.
As described in Part 1 of this blog, supporting our children is essential during these challenging times. Children rely on parents for strength and guidance.
Children are resilient and, most of the time, they are able to adapt to change. Unfortunately, the loss of traditional schooling, social activities, sports, summer camps, and all forms of normalcy have created too much change, all at once, for our children to manage.
Add to those stressors are the strict guidelines we must follow to maintain our health and safety.
Indeed, the pandemic has placed tremendous amounts of stress on everyone.
The following tips and reminders are suggestions on how to support your children during this demanding and emotionally-charged time.
5 Ways to Support Your Children
1. Listen to your children & try to understand.
“No one listens to me.” This is the number one concern I hear from children in therapy.
Actively listen, without offering advice or placing judgement, when your children are attempting to share their opinions. Your children will be more open to talking with you if you let them express their thoughts and feelings without being interrupted or judged. We often make the mistake of trying to provide support without fully understanding their concerns.
Take some time to process their thoughts and emotions first, then ask if they would like your help. Sometimes they may say, “No, I don’t need your help.” And that’s OK. Being heard was they needed and wanted.
Furthermore, we want our children to learn to problem solve on their own.
Of course, there will be times when you will need to step in but giving them the experience to try to figure it out will help to build confidence in their own abilities.
2. Talk about the difficult feelings.
Children, as well as adults, have lost so much in terms of being active and social. Try your best to validate your child’s feelings when they express sadness, frustration, or disappointment over sports being cancelled, adjusting to remote learning, not being able to see friends as much, or needing to wear a mask in public places.
3. Keep up with routines.
With many of our normal routines disrupted, it will be helpful to stick to known routines or establish new routines during this time. Children thrive with routines due to the consistency and safety they provide.
As your family adjusts to remote learning and the increased time children are spending at home, try to create schedules that are structured but not overwhelming. Encouraging your children to complete their daily hygiene practices before the start of e-Learning or finding time for “recess” during the day will go a long way in maintaining productivity.
4. Take breaks as needed.
On the flip side of keeping to a schedule is the ability to remain flexible. Remember that your children typically have time for PE, art, music, lunch, recess or other specials classes throughout their school days. Doing your best to model this type of schedule at home will offer the “reset” time your children are accustomed to during a regular school day.
Additionally, if something is not working well, reevaluate and adjust accordingly. Look for creative solutions to help your children learn to the best of their abilities.
5. Set a positive example.
Children learn and repeat what they observe. Although the stress of the pandemic may be wearing you down, remember that your children are watching how you respond. Think about what you are teaching them through your responses to difficult situations.
Are they learning to react with anger and frustration? Or will they understand how to stay positive and hopeful during stressful times?
If you feel the help of a professional is needed, we offer family, child and teen counseling. People seek therapy for many reasons. Some goals of family therapy include:
- Strengthening the emotional connection between family members,
- Helping family members identify how specific behaviors affect others,
- Learning new ways of relating to each other,
- Learning how to support each other, and
Creating a healthier family.