The COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything we have ever experienced.
As parents, you may be feeling a range of uncomfortable emotions (including anxiety, anger, sadness); as well as uncertainty about what to do and how to cope.
This week, we offer three more tips for parenting through these uncertain times.
Help your child work through their feelings of uncertainty
Parents and children alike are feeling uncertainty about a number of important matters: “When will school start again?” “Will I get sick?” “What if I lose my job?” “Will I ever see my friends again?” Our children look to us for safety and security. As parents, then, we need to demonstrate a certain level of acceptance about our feelings of worry and uncertainty to our children. It’s OK to say, “We don’t know when this will be over. I know it’s hard not to know. Just remember that we are doing the best we can to stay healthy, and that the whole world is working together to solve this problem.”
Take care of yourself the best you can
When we are feeling anxious, stressed, or angry, the last thing on our minds is taking care of ourselves. But in order to best support our children and provide for their needs, we need to take care of our own emotional and physical health. Some useful strategies for dealing with big, uncomfortable emotions include:
- Pay attention to your emotions and your thoughts
- Give your feelings a name. When we can name feelings, it settles our emotional brain so we can then have access to our thinking brain.
- Take a break from interacting with family members if you are not in control of your emotions: “I’m feeling upset at the moment and I can’t be as calm as I would like in this conversation. So I’m going to sit in my bedroom and read for 10 minutes to give myself a chance to settle down.”
- Talk to supportive friends and family
- Take a few deep breaths
- Practice mindfulness
There are many helpful and effective ways to manage uncomfortable emotions — singing, dancing, gardening, and drawing are just a few examples. And don’t forget to stay on top of good personal hygiene, eating well, getting enough sleep, and avoiding alcohol or drugs to lessen stress.
If possible, avoid behaviors that might increase your stress, such as constantly checking for new updates about COVID-19. Choose a couple of trusted sources for information, and check them once or twice a day. If these strategies do not work, consider seeking additional support. A list of resources can be found at https://resources.parentingnow.org/.
Reach out and connect with loved ones
Many of us are missing our family and friends as we practice shelter-in-place. Social distancing is one of the best tools we have to bring down the number of COVID-19 cases, so while we wait for restrictions to be lifted, try making greater use of phone calls and text messaging, online communication tools (video conferencing), and social media to keep in touch with family, friends, and neighbors. This could also be a great opportunity for you and your child to hand write letters and drawings to send in the mail to pen pals or family members. Your older children may also love showing you or grandma how to use the chat functions of their phone or social media.
If you are able, check in on your vulnerable neighbors or family members who might need additional support right now. Ways you could help, while still maintaining social distancing practices, are to leave groceries or a prepared meal on a neighbor’s doorstep, ask if you can help with chores that need to be done around the house or if you can pick up something for them when you go to the grocery store or pharmacy.
Take it one day at a time
Instead of worrying about whether summer camps will open up or if the virus will be under control by next fall, focus in on the present moment. Be thankful for your health and that of your family. Even though times are challenging, every day presents a new opportunity to step up to your challenges with courage and strength.
This article is brought to you by Parenting Now! Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com). Parenting Now! is passionate about happy, healthy families. For more information about Parenting Now! please visit their website (https://parentingnow.org/) or contact us at email@example.com
Triple P – Positive Parenting Program
Are you interested in receiving more parenting advice? Triple P Online – Positive Parenting Program could be for you! This online parenting program allows you to take a parenting class in the comfort of your own home! Triple P Online now includes a guide for parenting during COVID-19.
If you or your child are on Oregon Health Plan (OHP), you can get Triple P Online for free by filling out the form below. A staff person from Parenting Now! will send you an access code within 24 hours and you’ll be able to start using the program right away! For more information about the program visit the LaneKids Triple P homepage.