Parenting in the Time of the Pandemic: A School Psychologist’s Tips on Adjusting to the New Norm with Your Kids
Raising kids is already a tough enough job, more so in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only are you thinking about your kids’ welfare, but you are also struggling to thrive in an uncertain and unstable reality. At this time, the new normal for your child involves extended school closures and no in-person playdates, while you may be adjusting to a work-from-home set-up or have recently lost your job. Add in worrying about your child’s psychological well-being, stress levels tend to shoot through the roof.
The University of Michigan recently conducted a study during the early stages of the pandemic. It revealed that conflicts between a parent and their kid have been more frequent while the stay-at-home orders are in place. It was found out that there have been more incidents of yelling and the use of harsh language. Around 15% of the parents also said that they are now using discipline more.
School psychologist Dr. Erin Harper of the Texas A&M University-Commerce shares some tips on how parents can support their children’s emotional and mental health that she also applies to her 4-year-old son. Navigate through the new norm and learn as you go in the time of the pandemic.
What Your Kids May Be Feeling at this Time
Like adults, younger kids and teenagers are also experiencing a variety of feelings while on quarantine. Adults tend to get anxious and worried about the situation that we’re in. It’s important to note that whatever reactions or emotions you may be showing to your kids may influence their own feelings.
So, try your best to apply coping mechanisms so you can manage your emotions better. You can do this by connecting with your support system, may it be your family or your friends. You can also insert some physical or mindfulness activities into your routine and get enough sleep. When you interact with your children, you can listen to them carefully, provide thoughtful responses, and give them a sense of calm.
How to Talk to Your Kids About What’s Happening
Your approach may vary depending on the age of your child. Preschoolers usually have a limited understanding of complex situations like this. However, they can still recognize and express concern if there are any changes in their routine.
What you can do is to explain to them what’s happening. Even though they may not fully understand it, you still have to make an effort to explain why. Tell them that you can still talk to your friends or family through a video chat. Distraction usually works well at this age.
For elementary school kids, explain it using a simple language. Balance the facts with reassurances that the adults are trying their best to help them. Middle schoolers, meanwhile, can be more vocal about their confusion and their quest to know answers. Make sure to differentiate what’s real and what’s not.
Junior high and high school students can better comprehend the situation. To give then a sense of control even in one aspect of their life, tell them the truth, give up-to-date facts, and direct them to credible sources.
Best Way to Support Your Children Emotionally Right Now
You both need flexibility during this time, but a bit of structure can also help promote a sense of calm. A structure can mean daily schedules. If you find it stressful to follow the schedule to a T, reevaluate it and adjust.
Try to make one that is similar to your kid’s schedules on weekdays. It may give them a sense of normalcy. Also, try to change up your weekends so you can differentiate it.
How Do You Know if Your Child is Scared or Having a Hard Time Understanding the Situation?
Different age groups may have different reactions. The key is to notice unusual behavior. Preschoolers who are under stress can show regressive behavior like being overly clingy or more tantrums. Their eating and sleeping habits may also change.
Elementary students also have similar habits, but it’s more on changes in their mood. They might also be more irritable, sad, and turbulent at times. They may also find it difficult to concentrate.
Adolescents also have similar effects, but they are joined with acting out and physical health complaints.
Resources for Overwhelmed Parents
You can look for and join virtual support groups on Facebook. There, you may meet moms who have the same dilemmas and exchange tips. Try to stay connected with the schools of your children or use online learning platforms like PBS Learning Media.
More in Mind & Mental
9 Fool-Proof Ways to Beat Stress and Anxiety
With today’s fast-paced lifestyle, heavy demands, as well as the current global health crisis, a lot of people find themselves overwhelmed...May 26, 2020
Is It Safe to See Family and Friends Again Once Stay-at-Home Orders are Lifted? Here’s What Experts Say
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our definition of normal has forever changed. Due to shelter-in-place orders and social distancing, family members and...May 20, 2020
Effective Ways to Fight Burnout and Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Do you feel too exhausted and overwhelmed with your work that you start to disengage and stop caring? It may be...May 19, 2020
How to Lift Your Mood and Stay Positive in The Middle of a Pandemic
Even in the best of times, staying positive can be tough. Especially in the middle of a pandemic. With the news...May 13, 2020
6 Things You Can Do During the Summer to Improve Your Career Potential
With all that is happening in the world right now and the emergence of a new normal, this summer is not...May 12, 2020
Virtual Therapy is Becoming the New Norm for Counseling—Here’s How You Can Get the Most Out of It
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect public health and economies globally, rising amounts of anxiety and distress have taken a...May 5, 2020
A Doctor Explains if a Headache is a Symptom of Coronavirus
As per the World Health Organization, the most well-known symptoms of coronavirus include fever, tiredness, and a dry hack- some people...May 1, 2020
If You Want Your Kids to be Mentally Strong, Stop Saying These 5 Things to Them
Mental strength can get misinterpreted. Sometimes, your positive words about something they did or didn’t do can turn into a toxic...April 29, 2020
Improve Your Life: 4 Healthy Things to do for Yourself Today
In our busy lives, staying healthy all the time sounds tedious, and more often than not, we have no time to...April 28, 2020