As parents, the COVID-19 crisis has introduced a number of new responsibilities, stressors, and challenges. Whether it’s dealing with a changing employment situation, taking charge of your kids’ schooling, adjusting to a new schedule, or generally feeling uncertain about the future, life looks a lot different right now. This can leave you feeling anxious, fearful, and stressed out.
Though they may have their own set of changes to deal with, your children are likely experiencing these same kinds of emotions and they will show them with their behavior. Not being able to go to school, spend time with friends, or do extracurricular activities is stressful and upsetting. Giving your child the support and resources they need to cope with these feelings is important. Here are five ways you can help your child if they are struggling.
1. Get Them Back in the Groove
We all have routines – our kids included. Their school routine kept them in touch with friends, teachers, and kept their brains and bodies active. Routines help us with consistency and things to look forward to each day. Quarantine and social distancing have caused a lot of these daily habits to slip away or become less frequent. By helping your kids plan their days out and giving them some structure, you give them stability during these unpredictable times and help them take care of their needs. Here are a few activities that you can build off of to help your children get back into a routine:
- Wake-up and breakfast: With school schedules changing, it’s easy for kids to stay up late and sleep in late. Setting a wake-up time and following it with breakfast “kicks your child’s day off” for distance learning on a good note.
- Schoolwork and chores: A kid’s two least favorite words. Picking set times (a start and end time) to focus on schoolwork and housework will help your kid take care of business and help them avoid piling up work to do later. It reminds them that they are still responsible for a variety of tasks.
- Screen time: Working from home while leading homeschool and entertaining your children is not an easy task — just ask, well, anyone! For those who continue to work through these difficult times, it’s also very daunting. Help yourself out (and your kid) by giving them a set online/socializing time. This gives them something to look forward to but also keeps them from spending all day on their devices.
- Family time: Hanging out with family is crucial in a time where many kids are unable to see their friends. Whether it’s 30 minutes long or all night, you can set aside family time to watch a movie, play a game, or share a meal together.
2. Schedule One-On-One Time With Your Child
Having one-on-one time with your kid gives you a chance to stay caught up with how they’re feeling and what they’re up to. It also gives them a chance to talk to you about how they’re feeling. Spending dedicated time with just you and your child shows them you’re there for whatever they need – not just with school-related activities. Kids tend to demonstrate their emotions with their behavior – Validate their feelings and concerns. Like you, they’re trying to be okay the best they can.
3. Take Care of Your Own Stress and Anxiety
As important as it is to help your child in a time like this, it’s difficult to offer this support when you’re feeling just like they are. Taking care of yourself puts you in a better position to be the system of support your child needs right now. It’s not uncommon to feel worried or depressed during the COVID-19 pandemic. But it’s important to reach out for help if you do experience these feelings.
Crisis Support Services of Nevada (CSS) offers 24/7 confidential support, at no cost, if you’d like help dealing with anxiety and depression. They have a hotline you can call anytime at 1-800-273-8255, or you can even text ‘CARE’ to 839863. CSS also offers free resources for children and young adults.
Your child’s feelings are important during this crisis. But so are yours. Just as badly as you want to help your child feel better, they want you to feel better, too. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help if you are struggling. A little bit of help can go a long way for both you and your child. You can visit the CSS website for more information.
4. Use Positive Discipline Techniques
There’s no need to add to the anxiety your child may be feeling during this pandemic. Though your kid may deal with these feelings by behaving erratically and acting out more often, it’s important to realize that this is likely amplified by the situation they are in. Here are a few ways you can effectively, but positively, discipline your child if these situations arise:
- Give your child something else to do: Many children simply act out because they are bored. An easy solution is to find another activity for them to do and see if their demeanor changes.
- Reward good behavior: Helping your child stay emotionally calm doesn’t just have to be done after they’ve lashed out. Emphasizing and rewarding acts or behaviors that are positive encourages them to keep it up and shows them you are paying attention.
- Know when to engage and when to walk away: If your child is putting themselves or others in danger with their behavior, stepping in immediately is important. However, there are moments when it’s best to let your child have their moment and not let your frustration make matters worse. Not giving attention to their bad behavior can also be a sufficient way of stopping it.
5. Try New Activities and Exercises
It’s easy to become bored during the quarantine. This boredom can lead to your child feeling unmotivated, and possibly even depressed. Adding fun, interesting new activities into their day can keep them alert and excited. Whether it’s ordering a new board game, playing hide-and-seek around the house, geocaching, or building a fort out of pillows and blankets, keep adding in a different activity each day. As nice as it is to have routines, an unexpected element of fun makes a huge difference for a child.
Like you may have heard one too many times, there’s no instruction manual. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself. You’re trying the best you can. While we may not know when this crisis will end, trying to adapt to this “new normal” is all we can do. There will one day be crazy hair days to prepare for, school recitals, and days off, but in the meantime, keep your kiddos on an optimistic path towards the future.
This article was provided by our friends over at Crisis Support Services of Nevada. Thank you!
About Crisis Support Services of Nevada (CSSNV)
CSSNV is an independent nonprofit agency established in 1966 under our original name Crisis Call Center. CSSNV is funded by government grants, individual donations and fee-for-service contracts with local agencies. Over the years, the Crisis Call Center continued to grow and evolve in response to community needs, expanding our services to address sexual assault, domestic violence, substance abuse, child abuse and elder abuse. To reflect those expanded services, we rebranded to our current name, Crisis Support Services of Nevada, in 2018, but the Crisis Call Center, as well as Sexual Assault Support Services, still exists under the new umbrella. Our Mission is to provide 24/7, free confidential and caring support to people in crisis, being a beacon of hope in their darkest moments and empowering them to see a better tomorrow. For more information visit www.cssnv.org.