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Parenting In Pandemic Can Be A Task. Here’s A Guide!

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COVID-19 has changed us in more ways than we can count. One of the things that are not widely discussed is how it has affected family dynamics. Human beings are meant to live in social environments, mingle with loved ones and strike a balance between company and solitude. It keeps introverts, extroverts and ambiverts psychologically healthy.

But the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown, partial home isolation and online schooling, lack of outings and outdoor activities, working from home meant we have been cooped up inside our homes and not been able to see or spend time with many of our loved ones. 

Add to that the threat of contracting the viral disease and the constant news of people we know succumbing to coronavirus ensured that our mental health went into a tailspin.

But someone in your family has been more adversely affected than you. It’s the youngest and most curious member of your family. It’s your child!

Why have children been affected?

Children have not been able to go to school for months. The routine they were used to has been interrupted. Children have a harder time acclimatizing to change than adults.

They are lonely because they are cut off from their friends. They miss their teachers.

And all that stress related to your job, finances, health issues that you and the parents have been experiencing is unknowingly transmitted to them. 

Your behaviour changes when you are under stress. Despite trying to be on your best behaviour, you will be short-tempered, agitated and irritable. That makes your child feel more ill at ease.

This psychological disturbance manifests in many ways. Your child might show signs of hyperactivity, noisiness, inattentiveness, rebelliousness and rude behaviour.

Instead of further losing your temper with them or handing out harsh punishments, you need to understand that you need to calm your child down. Put his/her mind at ease with love and the feeling of certainty. Only then will your child feel secure enough to be a better version of himself/herself.

How to calm your child down

The way to calm your child down is by being a more attentive and understanding parent. Yes, you are stressed out yourself but you need to understand that children are more vulnerable and less equipped to cope with stress. Their reasons for feeling anxious, unhappy and depressed are just as valid as yours. They need your help.

1. Listen to them

Many problems can be solved through open and clear communication where children do not fear being judged or punished by their parents. Be open to them and let them know that whatever is on their mind, they can share with you.

Discuss the problems they might be facing due to online schooling and help them in overcoming the hurdles.

2. Do not brush aside their pain

Adults have a habit of laughing off children’s problems. The things that cause children distress are not insignificant. They need to be addressed if you want your child to grow up into an emotionally and psychologically healthy human. Even if you feel like the pandemic has heaped your plate with problems, you will still have to find time to solve your child’s problems.

3. Do not fight or argue with them

Children may demand things that you possibly cannot grant during the pandemic such as birthday parties, picnics or sleepovers with friends. Instead of hushing their temper tantrums with a fierce scolding, try engaging in a logical dialogue with them. Children do understand the reason if approached calmly and treated as an adult (and not disdainfully as some adults treat children).

4. Let them stay in touch with all their loved ones

The biggest boon of technology is the ease of connectivity. It is only natural for children during the pandemic to be worried about the health of their grandparents and friends. So arrange video calls with people they care about on a regular basis.

5. Give them hope

Children often act out when they are scared and uncertain. This is why you need to make them feel protected. Even though you are grappling with the same emotions of fear and uncertainty, you need to make your children feel that they are protected and that as a parent, you will try to shield him/her as much as possible.

6. Establish a steady routine in your home

Nothing is more calming and assuring than a fixed routine. So, try implementing one and it should also involve the adults of the family. Try to stick to a routine when it comes to waking up in the morning, breakfast, chores, work, lunch, naptime, online classes and homework (for the children), dinner and bedtime.

7. Family time

Quality time with the family is another effective strategy to make your child feel calm, tranquil and loved. Ensure that you all engage in some family activity every day. Be it board games, watching sports or cartoons or asking them to help you with household chores, make sure they feel involved and cherished. 

8. Discipline them

Children have very little idea of what kind of behaviour is acceptable or unacceptable. But during the modern age and especially considering how stressful the current era is, disciplining is something you need to approach thoughtfully. The old methods of physically punishing the child, yelling and abusing have been proven to do a lot of long-term damage.

Reward positive behaviour with acknowledgement and praise. Unless they do something that is worthy of punishment, ignore them. That usually discourages them from repeating the act.

Disciplining goes a long way in teaching children to be in greater control over unpleasant emotions such as turbulence, anger, hopelessness and despair.

Conclusion

Parenting has never been easy and the challenges have increased many-fold because of the ongoing pandemic. But it is only through affection, care and understanding can we all improve our psychological health and children need all three desperately. Once they start feeling sheltered, protected and understood, they will naturally calm down.

Every child is different, if you notice the persistence of any significant behaviour changes – irritability, loneliness, nightmares, change in appetite and sleep patterns, loss of interest in activities they loved previously, unexplained aches and pains, sadness do not hesitate in consulting a child psychologist or psychiatrist for the right advice. Anxiety and depression are found in people of all age groups including the little ones. Do not take their mental health lightly and give them the right care.

Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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