At some point in our lives, we all experience uncertainty. At the moment we are experiencing the uncertainty that goes with the COVID-19 virus. But it can also come in other forms – including job loss, divorce, housing problems, food shortages, illness – and all affect how we are parents.
This week’s tips for parents in uncertain times focus on communication skills and how you can support your child through open and honest discussions.
Be available to speak
This tip sounds theoretically simple enough, but between household chores, work, meals and snacks, walking the dog, and bathing time, you may say more often than you want to say “Not Now” or “Let’s Talk About It Later”.
It is important that your children know that they can come to you at any time to talk about their feelings or concerns. If possible, stop what you are doing and pay extra attention to your child if they want to share something with you. If you are in the middle of a job interview or preparing dinner, just pay a little attention to your answer. For example: “I really want to hear about the dream you had last night. It sounds like it’s a little annoying for you. Let’s take some time to talk about it after I finish my call. “
You may be able to avoid some interruptions by letting your child know when you are available. Before you make an important work call or attend an online meeting, let them know that you will be busy in the near future. Can you do something for her before you call? This can also help them anticipate and plan their needs.
If you have a moment to speak to your child, instead of telling them how to feel, check their feelings and let them know that it’s okay to feel anxious, anxious, or upset . Help them find a word for what they feel. We know that naming feeling helps us develop the ability to deal with it. We teach our children to move through the primitive, feeling part of the brain to the cognitive, thinking part of the brain. Here we can make decisions about how to deal with what we feel.
Answer your child’s questions truthfully
We want our children to feel safe in this world. to protect them from harm or creepy things. But at some point they will come to you with questions about topics that you may not feel ready to talk about. Always answer your child’s questions truthfully and to the best of their ability. For example, you could say, “What do you hear about BLANK?”, “What questions do you have about this?” It’s okay to say “I don’t know” and not have all the answers. If your tween asks why she can’t go to the mall with her friends this weekend, you can first ask what she knows about the problem (in this case, COVID-19 and Shelter-in-Place), and then reply to one Way that is simple and easy to understand based on the information she shared.
For a list of articles about COVID-19 for your child, go to https://www.lanekids.org/coronavirus-resources/ or https://parentingnow.org/parents/parenting-through-covid-19/.
Involve your children in the family’s “action plan”.
Parenting in uncertain times generally means that your situation is always in flux. This can mean canceled travel plans, school closings, canceled birthday parties, and changes in your child’s normal routine. If necessary, involve your child in the creation of “plans” for any changes that may occur. For example, if your personal school is interrupted for the rest of the school year, create a daily schedule with your child that includes class level and age-appropriate activities, as well as things like reading or art that your child likes to do. If you offer your child a routine that they can rely on, you will not only feel comfortable, but also strengthen their self-confidence and life skills. By contributing to or creating the routine, you can feel better in a situation over which you have little control.
Follow your child’s example in communication
While it is important for your child to be there when they have questions or want to share their concerns with you, it is equally important to follow your child’s example when it comes to when and how they want to communicate with you. If you don’t feel like talking at the moment, don’t press the topic. Come back to it at a different time when you can both be fully involved in the conversation.
If your child does not want to speak, encourage them to express their feelings or worries in other ways. Maybe they like to paint or paint. Ask: “What color would your feeling or mood be?” Maybe they like to dance or invent stories. Encourage role play. You may be surprised by what you learn and it can be a starting point for further discussions.
The most important thing your children need to know is that you are there for them and they can come to you with their worries, concerns and questions. By listening to them and providing them with a solid foundation, they know that you are on the same team. When they feel confident that you are on their side, they know that you will survive these uncertain times together.
This article was brought to you by Parenting Now! Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz, and advisor Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com).
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