Parenting Through Coronavirus COVID-19

The current situation is a confusing and anxious time for all. Particularly for those of us with children who rely on us for love, guidance and support. It is often difficult as parents to know what to say or do. However there are a number of things we can do for ourselves, our children and our families at this time.

Check in with yourself

Pause and check in with yourself – how do you feel? How calm or panicked/angry/saddened are you right now? It’s understandable that you might be feeling many things at the moment. Ask yourself – what do I need right now to get myself into a calmer state so that I feel anchored and centered? What do I need to do to be able to love and parent my children in the way that they need right now?

Children are like antennas and they tune in very easily to how we are feeling and what is going on for us.

The first thing we need to do as parents is to stop, notice our emotional state, and find some way of becoming calmer – meditate, breathe deeply, listen to your favorite song, laugh, or talk to someone who ‘gets’ you.

Stay in the present

Notice your thinking – is it based in the here and now, or are you worrying about what may happen in the future? Again, pause and take a moment to settle your thoughts and calm your mind. Find a few supportive statements to say to yourself like ‘I can handle this’, ‘I’ve been through tough times before and coped’, ‘we’ll get through this together’, or even ‘one hour at a time’.

Focus on what you can control

Think about what you can do, what do you have some influence over? The antidote to feeling powerless is to focus on what you can control, so think about how you can empower yourself and your family with some of the following ideas:

Be practical – Limit exposure to media about COVID-19 and limit your kids’ exposure to friends and family members who are panicked or overly emotional. Follow the guidelines of your local health department in terms of minimizing virus spread and role model this in a matter of fact way.

Be creative – If goods are in short supply what can you make? During war times our grandparents had to make do – what did they do? They were creative, resourceful and shared what they had with their neighbours. Be imaginative with the kids and cook, sew, get crafty and inventive.

Be structured – If your kids are home from school create a routine and structure to the day, get them involved, print off a checklist and help them take some ownership of how they spend their day, so that it continues to feel active and purposeful.

Be positive – Where possible endeavour to keep life as normal as possible and try to find the little positives or wins when they occur. Use the extra time together to connect with your kids, play boardgames, card games, watch funny movies, retell funny family stories, tell each other what you love and appreciate about each other, dance, sing, or ask your kids to give you a concert.

Be peaceful – Help your child find ways that they can have a peaceful, quiet moment to themselves. This will allow you to have a peaceful, quiet moment to yourself – just as important. One idea is to create a ‘nook’ for your child – a cosy, quiet, peaceful space with cushions, blankets where your child can curl up with a book, some colouring, or listen to meditations or audiobooks. Structure this ‘chill out time’ into their day.

Finally, as parents, if we take things a day at a time, support each other and work toward managing ourselves effectively, we will be better placed to support our kids through this challenging time.

By Emma Bevan for Emma Bevan Child Psychologist