We are all going through some hard times as we adjust to being in quarantine, social distancing, working remotely from home, or not working at all. This time is even more difficult for parents who not only have to work, manage the household, take care of themselves, but also help their children navigate through the emotional, social and educational fall outs from the COVID-19 corona virus.
What can a parent do to ease their anxiety and pressure of parenting during these times? Karen Fried, Psy.D., MFT, Founding Member of the Violet S Oaklander Foundation, has come up with some tips that she has coined as “just for now.” Below are some suggestions for children and teens, as well as families:
- Share your feelings with your children. Let them know that you are stressed and/or worried sometimes too. You don’t have to get into specifics or focus on worst case outcomes.
- Set up a specific time of day for worry time. Give everyone 1-2 minutes to share their worries and just listen.
- Normalize anger. If children or teens are angry, be angry with them. Show them that you are angry too and maybe yell at the corona virus together. “I am so mad that I have to stay home and can’t see my friends. I am sick of washing my hands. I want to go to my favorite restaurant!”
- Create a schedule with time for exercise, school, family activity, and social time. Children and teens still need structure and a routine as well as boundaries. This helps them feel safe. For older children and teens, give them the choice to create the schedule and when
- Identify your family’s must do’s every day such as staying healthy and safe through social distancing, washing hands frequently, wearing masks when going to essential businesses, and take some time for exercise.
- Create a so-what list. So what if the kids are wearing pajamas all day. So what if the kids are watching more screen time than usual. So what if kids are sleeping in later and going to bed later.
- Allow for some quiet and alone time in a space that is unique to each person in the house. During private time, give each person the opportunity to not be disturbed.
- Relax academic expectations. Acknowledge when kids are participating in school and doing school work.
- Children tend to worry more when they go to bed. Talk to them about what they might want to do in the future or who they might want to talk to this week on the phone or via facetime or zoom? Give them something else to think about before falling asleep.
- In a recent forum with therapists from all around the world, Violet Oaklander, a world renowned child therapist in Los Angeles and author of the book Windows to Our World, also suggested that parents sit on the floor with their children for 15 minutes or so and let them choose what they want to do with you. This gives children the feeling that they have all this time with the parent.
Have some compassion for yourself during this time. Take time to talk with your friends and family, take a moment to sit and breath, or contact a therapist for support. We at the Main Street Counseling Group are available to help parents, adolescents, children and families by offering telehealth sessions via phone or video conference. When you are ready, feel free to contact us for an appointment at 805-648-2805.