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Parenting in the Pandemic

Parenting in the Pandemic

We all can agree that our current world is facing a plethora of challenges. It seems like every day there is something new that we are learning about the virus and how to keep ourselves safe. But there are still many unanswered questions. This can be confusing for adults and even more confusing for children. Being a parent during this time adds additional stress because you are not only worried about yourself and your community, but also protecting your child. Dealing with fears due to the societal response to this virus can be challenging for everyone. We are going to give some tips on how to comfort your child through these uncertain times.

Depending on your child’s specific temperament, their fears may present themselves in a variety of different ways. Children might become angry and act out more than they usually do, but this may just be a way for them to hide their fear and confusion with the global pandemic. They might also disassociate or withdraw from their closest relationships to cope with the uncertainty. The good news is there are ways that you can prevent this and ways that you can help ease your child’s fears during this period of unknown.

Everyone wearing masks

The idea of everyone being required to wear a mask anywhere in public is an idea that would have sounded outlandish a year ago. But now, this is the norm. Wearing masks can be confusing and sometimes scary depending on your child’s specific fears. You can sit down with your child and explain to them that people are wearing masks to help protect their community. You can also encourage them to learn about how masks can potentially help fight the pandemic. If children are given the opportunity to understand that there is something they can do to help, more than likely, they will want to do it.

Social distancing

Social distancing is arguably one of the most difficult components of this pandemic. Being forced to be physically separated from friends and family can dramatically impact our mental well-being. Like we mentioned in the previous section, you can try comforting your child by first explaining why our society is responding in this way. You can explain how social distancing also helps prevent the spread of the virus and can help speed up things going back to normal. You can also comfort your child by scheduling ways for them to still see their friends and family. This can be done through video chat, phone calls, or even socially distanced playtime at the park. 

"When will things go back to normal?"

When your child asks questions about when the pandemic will be over and when the world will return to normal, it can be difficult for parents to come up with an adequate answer. The bottom line is that no one really knows how long the pandemic will last. All we can do is take each day at a time and do our best to keep our mental and physical health intact. To comfort your child when they ask these questions, you can try to reassure them that everyone is feeling a little confused right now but that things will eventually get better. Children are usually optimistic to an extent, so they probably will not have a hard time understanding this concept. You can also try to keep your children educated in small doses. This will depend on their age and maturity. But children can appreciate when they are looped into what’s going on. You don’t have to give them details that will frighten them but knowing some of the facts can help them feel supported during this confusing time.

Socialization

Socialization is a crucial part of a child’s growth, especially at a young age. Children that don’t have opportunities to socialize as much may have trouble developing social skills later on in life. Like we mentioned in the social distancing section, you can comfort your children (and their growth) by being creative with forms of socialization that keep all members safe. You can even introduce your children to different types of socialization that they may not be familiar with. For example, you could have them write letters or postcards to family and friends. This will not only provide some social growth opportunities for your child but also is a fun activity to do inside in the comfort of your home.

It’s important to be honest with your children and not try to sugar coat every piece of information you give them. You can be direct with your children without getting into the little details that may go over their heads anyway. Just as much as we need to take extra care of ourselves during these hectic times, your child will need extra comfort too. But the first step to being a good parent is taking care of yourself. It’s important not to neglect your own self-care. If you do, it will make it much more difficult to have the patience that is required to explain complicated concepts to your children.

This global pandemic has definitely made our world pretty complicated and confusing. But it also has given a lot of us the opportunity to slow down in this busy and chaotic world. Of course, there has been a lot of tragedy and suffering that had come along with the pandemic, but there is also a lot of ways that this pandemic may have changed the world for the better. Unfortunately, we won’t really know how much it has changed the world as we know it until we are able to live in a world without it. But this day will come and staying hopeful is important for our sanity and mental well-being.

Getting Help

If you are in need of counseling services, we offer online counseling appointments to patients in the  Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio areas. We also offer in-person appointments at our DFW (Southlake) office. We understand these are difficult times and we are here to support you or your child in any way that we can.

Author
Dr. Michael Messina

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