COVID -19 has created havoc to the normal routine for most parents. Life has changed and everything that was considered ‘normal’ before has been replaced by the government dictates like an evening stroll in the parks, long chitchats with neighbors or even the evening cricket matches for school-going children.
Parenting is never easy and it’s definitely not easy to handle your children’s energy 24x7 at home. The parents in nuclear families have their hands full at homes now. Flashback to last year, while they were rushing to drop their kids to schools and arranging their lunch boxes, now they have to be present the whole time with children, even during their online classes, lest the children lag behind in their assignments. The women in the household have to handle both the home front and children. During these difficult times, parents are bound to lose their cool and be aggressive. These are some small tips that can be tried at home:
No one is to be blamed for this. Let’s face it. COVID is now a part of our lives and it will continue to be there for some time. But that does not mean, being stressed or angry will make the situation better. Now is the time when we can play and have fun together. Depending on the age of your children, you can do activities like playing with your toddlers or reading books together. Teenagers love to help with the household or just talk to them about their interests. Don’t try to suppress their feelings, understand from their point of view
TALKING ABOUT THE DISEASE:
Children are not blind or deaf. They would have heard you talk about the disease. Hiding the facts does not help either. Honest talks with them in a simple receptive manner always help.
PRAISE YOUR CHILDREN:
Praising your children for their good behavior not only motivates them to continue being good but also reassures them that we notice and care.
LISTEN TO YOUR CHILDREN:
Our children look up to us. If we are worried, they can understand it from our faces no matter how much we try to hide it. We should try to remain calm in front of them. Hear their stories, laugh along with them, and understand their feelings. These are testing times for them too. Look up to them if they enter our rooms even though we are in the busy of important work or project. This encourages them to come to us at all times. If they see that we are always busy with work, that also tends to make them more silent and introverted and in the long run, they often tend to hide things from us because we, ‘parents are always busy’.
CREATE A FLEXIBLE ROUTINE:
This not only calms the parents but including children in daily chores can make them responsible. These times will change; they will be back at school soon. Remember there were times when you longed to spend some quality time with them. Reading books together, cooking or washing dishes- any simple chore can be made fun!
ONLINE TIME CHECK:
Nowadays, children are more online either due to school assignments or because of more spare time. Online games should be checked for violence or self-harm. Younger children can be asked to use the computer or laptop in a common room and not in their bedrooms so that parents can monitor the content. Children should be advised not to share personal information like contact details, photos or videos. Privacy settings have to be checked. Counsel them that if anything that they see or read online makes them uncomfortable, they can talk to us and tell us.
Having meals together is a good way to engage all the members of the family to talk and share their feelings, worries and doubts. Watching a movie together is a great idea too.
BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL:
Being calm and supportive is the best way to manage. Positive language and appreciating words always create a happier environment. Being overprotective or imposing restrictions on them especially on teenagers usually end up for the worse.
DURING BAD BEHAVIOUR:
Children are not used to being still. It is in their nature to be restless and run around. When you see it begin, try to change their mood, play with them, or re-direct them to do something else like coloring or reading a book. Shouting doesn’t do that! Don’t make a mess! Can’t you keep still? It will only provoke them. Instead, try using phrases like why don’t we try to put your toys away in a proper place, so you can find them easy to play. If you arrange your room, maybe we could play chess together?
FEELING YOU HAVE REACHED YOUR BREAKING POINT? Take a break. Relax and lie down for a while. All of us are humans. None of us are perfect.
Health always is the first priority. Teach your children about proper handwashing techniques, and the need for social and safe distancing. Avoid traveling as much as possible. Limit outdoor activities. Grocery shopping should be limited to once in a week.
The final motto is to be safe and be happy. This too shall pass!!
Dr. Pearl Mary Varughese, MBBS, MD