This summer, there is more pressure on parents than ever. Quarantining at home has presented challenges for all of us, and parents may find themselves feeling overwhelmed trying to keep up with the demands of everyday life. Just as prioritizing our physical health is important, tending to the mental health and emotional wellbeing of ourselves and our children is vital.
“For parents, it is essential to recognize and accept that if you can provide your children with a sense of love and security, everything else is secondary,” says Jennifer Yanowitz, LCSW, an Englewood Health social worker who focuses on community development. “If you are giving your kids that—they have enough.” She offers these helpful tips for parents on getting through the summer:
Model the Behavior You Want to See
Parents set the tone for the family. Your energy, your body language, help to shape what your children are taking in and how they respond to what we are experiencing in 2020. Model the behavior you want them to reflect. For example, try to exhibit calm; reinforce the message that this is temporary.
Now is a great time to teach your children positive ways to deal with challenges. Ultimately, they will develop a healthy attitude, as well as coping skills for dealing with stress and the ability to talk about their feelings. These resiliency skills will last them for life.
Acknowledge Their Experiences
Right now, children may be experiencing a range of emotions they are not yet able to describe. Monitor your children’s behaviors and actions. The grief and loss they are facing may manifest as anger, over- or under- eating, irritability, oversleeping, or other behaviors. Parents can acknowledge the experience and help children put words to their emotions. Talk with your children about how they are feeling and encourage them to make the connections.
Focus on Routine and Socialization
Two of the most important elements for a healthy childhood are routine and socialization. Here are three ways parents can maintain a routine and introduce activities that support the whole family this summer:
- Schedule FaceTime or Zoom calls for your children with their friends; they can have lunch or play games together.
- Organize an outside playdate with another family, while social distancing responsibly, depending on your family’s level of comfort.
- One parent can take a child on a walk with another parent/child team. This can be a great way to get out of the house for fresh air, get some exercise, and have a shared experience.
When you are going through hard times, it can feel like an eternity. Ask yourself, what are the silver linings here? We can grow in the face of adversity. Eventually, this difficult period will come to an end, even for those who have been personally affected by COVID-19. What do you want this experience to have been for you and your family? How do you want your children to remember it?
Posted July 27, 2020