How Parents Can Handle Stress During Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Recently, there was a consensus from the American Academy of Pediatrics of how parents can cope with increased stress due to the recent Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Here are some suggestions to help in this time of crisis.
· Pay attention to your child’s stress levels. Children regardless of their age tend to notice when something is not right with their parent. It would be best to try to vent or show your anxiety, stress, and frustration away from your child, if safely possible. Every child is different so a child may be feeling anxious or stressed without you knowing.
· Spend quality time with them. Are you spending quality time with your children, or are you spending too much time watching TV or on your smartphone? Sometimes when a parent is stressed they don’t realize the lack of quality time spent with their children since the stress is distracting them or essentially estranging you from your children. This is a critical time to monitor your children and reinforce good behavior while disciplining bad behavior. If you become an “absentee parent” during this crisis, lasting effects may linger when life restores to normalcy.
· Ask them if they are scared. Children are more intelligent than we like to think. They may be more aware of their world than you realize. Older children are almost certainly capable of being hyper aware of their world. Even if your oldest child appears to be ok, don’t assume that they are. Reach out to them and ask if there is anything that is troubling them. A lot of times, the fear can be dispelled with positive reinforcement. However, if it’s never discussed, then your child is feeling afraid or anxious when it’s unnecessary!
· Find new activities. Sometimes routine helps children, and sometimes routine negatively affects children due to boredom. Boredom typically is a friend of trouble so it would be best to attempt new activities to keep things interesting for your child. Maybe it’s time to dust off that favorite board game or go for a walk around the neighborhood (if your town currently allows walking). If your children are currently not going to school, they may, believe it or not, be frustrated or anxious about it.
· Avoid spanking. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, spanking, a.k.a. “corporal punishment” may not be as effective as once thought. Apparently, children disciplined with corporal punishment which include, but not limits to, spanking, hitting, whipping etc. could lead to a detrimental outcome in the child’s development, including, but not limiting to, brain development and emotional intelligence development.1 This may make the child not feel safe at home when the feeling of safety is really what is needed right now.
· If you feel that you’re at a point of mental breakdown, reach out to someone. If you feel you are at a point of “losing it” you may need to reach out to a friend, relative, and / or health officials. The last thing you want to do is lash out at your children due to being under emotional duress related to Coronavirus.
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1 The American Academy of Pediatrics Advises Parents Experiencing Stress Over COVID-19 Link: (https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/The-American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Advises-Parents-Experiencing-Stress-over-COVID-19.aspx).
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