Education has always been difficult, but home schooling, homework and all the financial uncertainties associated with COVID-19 have made it even more difficult. These tips for parents will help you cope.
The unique stress parents face during COVID-19.
With many schools and workplaces closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of us face a new and often very stressful family situation. In addition to having to work at home and run your household, you may try to keep your children at work in a virtual school, all while maintaining the limitations of social distance and even being cut off from friends and family. When the whole family is in the same place day after day, the stress can seem unstoppable. If you or your spouse are sent on unpaid leave or have lost a source of income, financial pressure can add even more stress. Left unattended, it can be a recipe for burnout.
As a parent right now, it's easy to feel like you have so many roles that you can't perform any of them well. But it's important to remind yourself that this is a unique situation, a global health emergency that none of us have faced before. Don't punish yourself if you don't work at the normal level. This may be related to the quality of your work, your care at home, or your ability to keep children focused on school work. By improving and following these balancing tips, you can manage your stress levels and make each day a little easier on your family - and yourself.
Helping your children with online activities and homework.
The Coronavirus pandemic has left many of us as de facto home teachers. In addition to all your other responsibilities, it may be hard for you to keep your children informed or help them with homework, especially if they are in different classes. Remember that these are also stressful times for children, and it is normal for them to regress or behave in ways that they normally would not. An easy approach to children can help reduce their stress levels as well as your own.
Joining forces with other parents. Talk to a safe place or by phone, email or social networking and share tips to keep your kids informed and up to date. Depending on the restrictions in your area, you can also organize a virtual event or learning group that will have an extra bonus in social interaction for your child. Working with other parents can also help you feel less isolated.
Talk to your child's teacher. Remember that they also go through this through trial and error. If your child's school is still closed, be honest about what works with the home tutor and what doesn't. Your child's teacher has a good understanding of your child's academic strengths and weaknesses so they can help you make a more personalized curriculum.
Create a learning program. This routine gives children a sense of normal life for an indefinite period of time. But you don't have to go crazy with color-coded schedules if it's not your style. Just create an overall plan that you think can be maintained for most days, leaving room for flexibility and downtime. If possible, try to identify a workspace for each family member.
Set goals and celebrate their achievement. Because so many things have become separated from our daily lives, having something to look forward to can help children stay focused. Setting small rewards, such as watching an episode of a favorite TV show, can help them cope with this unpleasant math task. Involve the whole family in it. If you all set multiple goals and plan a gap, your children will see that you are a team.
Be creative at Home Doing a science experiment, for example, or cooking with measurements, can be a good way to bring lessons to life. And consider your child's strengths. If he likes to draw and write, now is the time to let go with pencils and paper.
Practice vulnerability (and encourage your children to do the same).
Let's face it: these are not ideal circumstances, and at some point there will inevitably be conflict at home. When you feel your frustration starting to mount, take some time and try to break away before the situation escalates. If you lose your temper, wait until everyone calms down and then apologize. Be honest with your children and let them know when you feel overwhelmed. At the same time, encourage them to be honest about their feelings and disappointments.
Address your child's fears and stress.
After watching the news or eavesdropping on an adult's conversation about the pandemic, young children may become frightened. COVID-19 has changed your school, your friendship and your normal routine, so one of your top priorities should be to address your child's fears and calm his or her physical and emotional condition.
Talk at an age-appropriate level. If your child is still young, you should not talk too much, as this can stir the imagination. Instead, try to answer questions they may have. It's okay if you don't know everything; if your child is older, help him or her find accurate information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO).
Answer questions simply and honestly. If your child has questions about a pandemic, know that honesty is always the best policy. Although you do not want to scare young children, there is nothing wrong with talking about the need for precautions, such as social distancing and handwashing.
Be supportive. If you are forced to quarantine your child as a family, your child will be disappointed that he or she cannot see friends or visit other family members. Be open to that. Explain that you understand their frustration and that you are missing out on friendships and special occasions.
Arrange dates for virtual games. Offer an alternative to personal online game dates. Set your kids up with video conferencing services like Skype or Zoom so they can stay in touch with, for example, close friends and grandparents.
Give extra love and affection. This is a stressful time for all of us, and we can all use the extra love. Your child will appreciate the extra hugs and kisses.
Name a special one-on-one time. If everyone is at home with each other all the time, a one-on-one relationship with each child is a great way to connect more closely. Let your child choose an activity that you both participate in.
Find something to be thankful for. Each night share with your child a fun or positive experience you had that day and encourage him/her to do the same. It could be a job or a school assignment, an improvement on the house, or something as simple as watching a beautiful sunset. It may sound trivial, but acknowledging gratitude and a positive experience can give you a break from negative thinking and really encourage your family.
Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle
As the pandemic continues, the usual daily routine can easily be overlooked. But structure and consistency are important for children. For example, regular meals and time spent in bed can make a child feel safe.
Establish a new healthy eating habit. As you adjust to the new standard, you may need to establish a new daily routine for your children. Even if things like spending time in bed have changed without school every day, try to be consistent and follow the same schedule every day. Find time for activities like exercise, family dinners and homework, and time for your child to socialize with friends, whether it's safe to do so in person or online.
Follow safety tips. In different areas where there are different restrictions, it is important to follow advice from reliable sources such as CDC, WHO, and local health authorities. Playgrounds, school yards, and parks are high-risk areas where your children should follow your safety instructions for themselves and others. This may mean wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, and washing hands regularly.
Reinforce the importance of hygiene and hand washing Handwashing may have been a boring and tedious exercise in 2019, but now it can be a life-saving measure. Make it a habit for your child to wash her hands every time she goes out or has contact with others. To support this habit in young children, make up a song to one of your child's favorite songs and sing it together while washing your hands.
Practice what you preach. Follow social distance and other safety protocols, treat others with respect, and protect the vulnerable. Young children are impressionable and will imitate your behavior, so be sure to set a positive example.
The importance of going to bed regularly
It is normal for children to have trouble sleeping during severe stress. Some may have trouble sleeping, others, especially young children, may worry about being separated from their parents. Maintaining consistent sleep time and regular nighttime routines can help solve these problems.
Make sure your child goes to bed and wakes up at the same time every day.
Set up a nighttime mode where the lights are dimmed and your child can relax and unwind.
Make sure all screens are turned off at least an hour before bedtime, as the blue light from these devices can prevent your child from falling asleep and waking up. Instead, try reading to your child together or listening to an audio book.
If your child needs more physical touches in the form of hugs and kisses at night, if he or she needs to calm down
Once your child is in bed, it is important that you, as a parent, take time in the evening to relax and unwind. A good night's sleep is just as important to you.
Managing Behavior Problems
Often, when children misbehave, it is a reaction to the amount of stress they are under and a way to get rid of their frustration. Try to remember this when acting as a disciplined professional in these difficult times, and do your best to stay calm. Start by managing your own stress levels through exercise, a healthy lifestyle, time for fun and regular relaxation practices. The calmer and more relaxed you are, the better you will be able to manage your child's stress response.
These positive discipline tips can also help:
redirecting your child. If your child doesn't behave well, redirect him or her to another activity, such as playing outside or reading a book. As a parent, you can sometimes tell when your youngest child is getting nervous. Take the opportunity to distract him with an interesting task or a fun game, and you can reduce the misbehavior before it starts.
Take a break. There are many ways to relieve stress when you feel you are losing patience with your child. For example, take a deep breath and count to ten to calm down. This way, you can react more calmly and positively to your child's behavior.
Give your child a creative consequence. For a good example, if your child goes outside without a mask, ask him or her to draw a picture of your child with a mask or a picture of your family with masks. Creative consequences involve your child and teach him/her that his/her behavior is wrong.
Encourage good behavior, such as doing a good job of schoolwork, making the bed, taking out the trash, or communicating with siblings. Under normal circumstances, such behavior cannot be rewarded, but in these stressful times, nothing positive should go unrecognized.
Never yell or slap a child. Losing your temper this way will only hurt your relationship and affect your child's sense of security.
Sometimes it is better to do nothing. Ignoring bad behavior can be extremely effective when trying to get the child to stop doing something. When a young child seeks attention, refusing it can make him realize that he must stop or find a more respectful way to get attention.
Supervising your child's use of social media
In this time of social exclusion and isolation, many of us - and our children - depend on the Internet and social networks to keep in touch with friends and family and to keep up with the news. While social networking has many positive aspects, it can also negatively affect your child's level of stress, anxiety, and uncertainty.
If you are concerned about your child's use of social media, you may be tempted to simply restrict his or her access to the phone or other devices. But this can create additional problems by separating your child from friends when they need them most. Instead, there are other ways to monitor their online activities and help them use social media more responsibly.