Parenting Through A Pandemic: Helping Children Through COVID-19
COVID-19 is an unprecedented time for our entire country and is hitting our own communities quite hard. Our lives have changed in an instance and families are left to their own devices (literally) attempting to navigate these unchartered waters through Google Classroom and various Zoom meetings throughout the day replacing a once vibrant and interactive classroom setting.
Many parents are struggling with how to cope with the pandemic as adults. Explaining this environment to a child can be overwhelming, scary and seemingly impossible. Our children are living through something we have never experienced. We are scared and they can feel that.
All children have the innate ability to work through challenges and cope with stress. Resilience is defined as the ability to bounce back from stress, adversity, failure, challenges, or even trauma. It’s not something that kids either have or don’t have; it’s a skill that kids cultivate as they learn and grow. Living through a Pandemic is not something we expected in 2020, just like we don’t expect any other trauma that occurs spontaneously.
As a therapist, parent’s often ask me “How do I get my child through this time?”
Consistency – Children will always thrive off of consistency. When the day to day world around them seems completely different, consistent expectations within the home become crucial. Whether it’s keeping them on track in Google Classroom or maintaining proper hygiene providing guidelines with visual schedules, consequences/rewards charts and consistent expectations during school or in the home. When children know what is expected of them, their success if often greater.
Factual Information- Technology is a major part of all of our lives. It is something we cannot ignore. As parents, it’s gravely important to monitor the media your child is taking in. This means limiting the amount of news and information they are taking in daily about the Pandemic and to ensure factual information is shared in a safe and purposeful way. Even as adults, we must monitor the amount of information we are taking in to preserve our own well-being.
Safe Space- Provide a safe space for your child to communicate with you about how their feeling. Discuss how this time has been both negative and positive for your child, and work through some of the negative’s together as a family. Make sure your child knows they can talk with you about how their feelings and it’s okay to take breaks for our mental health throughout the day, let them know your’e navigating this together and encourage open communication.
Incorporate Normalcy- In an unprecedented time it is important to incorporate normal day-to-day activities with your child especially when most of their day-to-day has been flipped upside down. Go outside for a walk with proper social distancing, take a bike ride around the block and remember to be mindful in these moments and accumulate these positive experiences together. There is always a silver lining, even in the most uncertain times.
Reach out- Lastly, let your child know they are never alone. There is always help if they need it whether it’s reaching out to a teacher for extra support in math, video calling with a family member to share a laugh or talking with a therapist about how being in quarantine has increased their feelings of fear and loneliness.
As a therapist who works with children & families daily, I recognize the increased need for support that families are faced with today. Being available via Telehealth is extremely important for children and adolescents as it provides them a life line or support. That is something that is sorely missed by many during these trying times.