What week of social distancing is it again…?
I’m sure there are a lot of you asking the same thing because I know I lost count maybe last week…
Times are definitely tough right now and super strange. It’s like we are all living in a bad dream that we can’t wake up from. I wake up every morning and pray that this pandemic subsides so that we can all get back to a (semi) normal routine. Well it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen any time soon, especially since the schools in Cali have now declared that we won’t be going back for this school year.
The World Health Organization (WHO) knows how much of an impact this COVID-19 pandemic has on parents and released their own Guide to Healthy Parenting. The simple, visual guide has some pretty good tips that are very useful during this confusing and stressful experience. There’s some solid advice on how to keep calm (because we all know we are literally one tantrum away from losing it), how to stay positive, how to talk about coronavirus with your kids and more!
Here are some highlights of their tips:
Talking About COVID-19 With Your Kids
Your kids might have some understanding of what the coronavirus is and what’s happening, but they might not have a good grasp on the fact to why they can’t visit their friends, see grandma and grandpa or go back to school. WHO suggests that you be completely honest with your kids given that secrets and silence will do nothing to protect them. You’ll want to make sure that you are:
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- Honest – try to answer their questions truthfully and take their age into consideration.
- Be Open & Listen – Allow them to ask questions freely. If not, ask them open questions to see how much they really know on the subject.
- Be Supportive – Even though your kids might be confused or scared on the topic, you’ll want to give them space so that they share how they are feeling. Always let them know that you are there for them.
How To Keep Clam & Manage Stress
There’s no doubt that we are all stressed to the max! Besides worrying about finding the basics at grocery stores, work and the possibility of catching COVOD-19, you now have to worry about your kids and their schooling. It’s important that you take are of yourself and your family. You are not alone in this because millions of others are experiencing feelings and stress just like you. Tips for managing stress and keeping calm from WHO include:
Taking A Break
This is a no brainer. You should be taking breaks as it is. Take as many breaks as you can during this time; when the kids are asleep, when they’re playing by themselves – any time you can catch a break, take it! Sit down and read a book, listen to a podcast, workout or just scroll on social media… you deserve it!
The WHO suggests you take a 1-minute pause several times throughout the day (and especially when when your kids are getting on your last nerves). The one minute relaxation has 5 steps that are easy to learn and practice:
- Set up a comfy sitting position, have your feet flat on the floor, your hands resting in your lap and close your eyes (if you want).
- Take notice of your thoughts and if they are positive or negative. Notice how you are feeling emotionally and how your body feels (if it’s tense or hurts).
- Focus on your breath as it goes in and out. Place your hand on your tummy to feel it go up and down with each breath you take. Say some sort of mantra like “It’s going to be okay.” Just listen to your breath for a few seconds.
- Take notice of how your whole body feels now, being present in the moment.
- Reflect if you feel better after that one minute. When you are ready, open your eyes and reflect.
Dealing With Bad Behavior
Your kids might be misbehaving more than usual right now ( I know mine are). That’s because they are feeling cooped up just like you and might be feeding off of your rollercoaster of emotions. Kids are more intuitive than you think and they often feel what you’re feeling (even if you don’t verbalize it). It’s normal for them to drive you a bit crazier than usual since they’re now stuck at home. WHO recommends a few tactics to deal with this bad behavior, such as:
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Catch any tantrums or bad behavior as soon as you can and then redirect their attention from being bad to being good. If you can, stop it right before it starts. If you see that they haven’t eaten in a while, feed them. If they are getting restless, distract them with something fun (make up a game or have them do a new activity).
If they’re still getting on your nerves, just pause and take a 10-second pause. Go to the other room, breathe in and out a few times then go back and try to respond in a calmer way.
Consequences allow for controlled discipline and is more effective than shouting. They also teach your kids responsibility for their own actions. Give them a choice to follow your instructions before giving them the consequence. Stay calm when doing it and make sure you follow through with it (parenting 101, really). Once that consequence is over, allow your child the chance to do something good and then praise them for it.
It’s hard to stay positive when you feel the world is crumbling down around you. It’s also hard to to feel this way when kids are driving us crazy. According to WHO, kids are more likely to do what we ask if we provide them positive instructions instead of shouting at them. Tips on staying positive include:
It’s All About The Delivery
Instead of shouting (which will only stress you and them out more), speak in a calm voice and get their attention by using their full name. Use positive words when telling them what to do. So instead of telling them not to make a mess, redirect them to the task you want done and add a please to it.
Give Them All The Praise (When They Deserve It)
When your kids are acting as they should and have done something good, praise them for it. This will reassure them that you noticed and care about their actions. The more praise they get, the more they’ll want to model whatever behavior got them that praise.
You need to be realistic of what you’re asking your child to do. Are they of age for your request yet? Can they really sit still for long periods of time. Don’t set them up for failure and be realistic of what you expect from them.
Set Up Structure
COVID-19 has literally taken away our daily routines – the routines your kids were used to doing. Going to school, playing with friends, seeing family… that’s all gone now, so this time can be especially difficult for them as they try to adjust to this new normal. Kids aren’t ones to adapt easily, either, which could be why they are acting up more than usual. Making new routines can greatly help them and you!
You’ll want to create a daily routine that’s still flexible (allowing for some fun and changes as you see fit). Create a schedule of activities, which should include some sort of “schooling,” free time and family time. This will help your kids feel secure and you’ll notice how better behaved they’ll be because they know what to expect. Also make sure to include some physical activity or exercise in their day so that they can get the sillies out!
Always make hand washing and proper hygiene part of their daily schedule. Make it fun, too! Have a 20-second song for washing hands or make a game to see how few times they can touch their faces and then reward the winner! Then at the end of each day, take some time to think about what was achieved and tell your kids one positive or fun thing they did for the day. After, pat yourself on the back for being an awesome parent and surviving another day at home to stay safe.