Parenting is no easy task.
It comes with its own trials and tribulations, but it also comes with life-changing and incredible moments. On top of various external factors that influence and change the way that individuals do parenting (economic and social impact), there is growing concern surrounding the effect that the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had on our children and the ability of our parents to raise their children for many reasons. Studies have shown that an increasingly substantial number of children are dealing with anxiety, depression, and other issues regarding mental health. The pandemic has resulted in school closures, limited time spent with friends and family members, restrictions on outdoor activities, restricted mental health services, and much more. For parents, they have dealt with the loss of jobs, loved ones, and the challenge of working at home while raising children. With the many hardships that come with this era, how can we parent our children forward and onward? How can we ensure children have a conducive and loving environment during this time?
While this pandemic has been hard on families, it can offer excellent opportunities to become closer with each other. Parents are a child’s first context for childhood development, and parenting consists of providing a child emotional, intellectual, physical, and social development. We can work towards providing support, both from you and their home environment, through positive parenting. This involves reassuring them with clear facts, paying attention to their emotional well-being and behaviors, practicing self-care together in the home, putting down your phone and practicing quality time together, and keeping up with physical activity and healthy eating habits.
It is important to reassure our family members that everything will be okay. One way to do this is to clarify facts about the pandemic that are age-appropriate. There is an opportunity for parents to empower children to learn values, for example, caring for others, thinking about their community, and educating them about good habits like hand washing, using masks, and covering one’s cough! Allow your child to ask questions, discuss their feelings about the pandemic, and how it affects them. There is no need to always have an answer, and you should not offer false promises, but simply being present to listen can go a long way with others.
Support their Emotional Well-being
Another vital thing to keep in mind is to observe any emotional or behavioral changes in your children. Parents play a crucial role in adolescents maintaining their mental health simply by doing the following:
- Listening to them
- Acknowledging their difficulties
- Clarifying away their doubts
- Reassuring them
- Offering hope
- Providing emotional support during harsher times.
Practice Self-Care Together
Self-care is a priority for parents, as it subsequently impacts their own children’s stress. It is okay to feel stressed during this time, but self-care can help manage it. This could mean practicing quiet time together, taking bubble baths, or baking your favorite comfort food to share together. For others, this could mean taking time to appreciate all of the small things – testing out fun filters on your phone together, dancing together throughout the house, or snuggling up to cuddle. Enjoy these times together and vocalize this gratitude in front of your child.
Put Down the Phone
It is equally important to share uninterrupted and focused quality time by practicing self-care together. When a child may not be able to see loved ones and friends as much as before, time spent with you is of the utmost importance. As a parent, you should encourage children to use less technology. Keep your child engaged with you by playing board games, movies, singing, dancing, painting, reading a storybook, cooking meals together, activities such as arts, crafts, and indoor stretches to stay active.
Keep up with Physical Health and Routine
Keeping children hydrated, maintaining healthy eating habits, establishing a consistent routine, and promoting physical activity benefits children’s mental and physical well-being! Find ways to incorporate physical activity through weekly walks outside together or to the nearby playground. Shopping for healthy snacks instead of sugary will keep children feeling physically their best and not groggy. Having a consistent routine will provide children with security, predictability, and comfort.
Parents have a significant role to play that could impact their children’s mental well-being and healthy development. Positive parenting can help parents see their children through difficult times and see the beauty through the storm. It can also ensure better development outcomes in behavior, intellectual, emotional, and social skills. This is a challenging and often stressful era of life, but some of these simple strategies may benefit both children and parents alike.