This 25-minute talk addresses several topics related to Parenting During a Pandemic, and most of these extend outside of the current situation as well.
Whether you're in a single-parenting, double-parenting or co-parenting situation, these resources and information may be relevant and helpful for you.
I've been working with so many clients who are struggling with the new challenges, (amidst the COVID-19 situation) around keeping their children safe, healthy and happy while navigating new parenting challenges and trying to keep the peace and sanity for all involved.
To provide some support to those struggling with these new challenges, I invited my colleague, Holly Forman-Patel to join me to share some information and resources.
Holly is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in working with children and adults who have experienced trauma. She also specializes in Parent Coaching, which is helping parents of children (10 and under) work through challenging behaviors that are occurring. She has become a close colleague and trusted partner over the years, as we’ve worked together to help our clients (both the parents and the children) transition through the divorce process in a way that will help them to grow and evolve. So, we wanted to come together to discuss the current challenges many parents are facing within the current pandemic situation.
Although we’ve found that some parents and children are really liking the stability of the situation (with reduced transitions between homes and activities and more time together), there are still plenty of new challenges that they are working through. We address those, specifically, in this talk.
Please watch the video and/or read the summary (and more) below. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Holly and/or me.
Parents are dealing with the tension and challenges around having their kids home (all of the time) while dealing with the limitations and added stressors around the current COVID-19 situation. So, how can parents help their kids by minimizing the negative impacts of the isolation and maximizing the opportunities? By:
First… how might this situation be affecting your children? They may be:
Now, to expand on the items outlined above:
Create an Environment of LOVE and STRUCTURE for Your Kids
Spread the love -- generously. Try to have compassion for everyone and what they’re going through. This is a difficult time for everyone. Be patient, be kind and be forgiving. That means to yourself as well. A positive attitude and a loving environment can have a very positive impact on everyone in the house.
Having structure helps to create a space for clear expectations, some level of predictability, and a safety net that allows us to keep operating.
Some parents are building resentment around the challenges with homeschooling and understanding their child’s developmental level and needs. It can be frustrating and challenging to create an environment where kids can actually learn from their parents, all while parents are trying to focus on working and/or maintaining the household responsibilities. So, it might be a good time to think about what you might be able to let go for the time being.
In the classroom, kids can spend between 6 and 8 hours in a learning environment, while, at home, they struggle to complete just a couple hours of work. Why is that? Teachers deliberately take the time to create an environment for structured learning with clear expectations -- and it doesn’t happen overnight.
So, how can you foster a productive, loving and structured environment for your children?
To address the some of the issues around too much screen time, boredom, cabin fever, overwhelm and depression, we explored some ideas for bonding activities that you can do with your children (which do NOT involve a screen (unless you’re conducting them on a video conference, which is just great too!)):
Form a United Plan with your Co-Parent
(i.e. the other parent, whether a spouse/partner or not)
Every parenting situation and style is different. As much as possible, come to an agreement with your parent partner on how children will be advised on safety precautions, allowable activities, and expectations for schoolwork, breaks, and behavior. Disagreements and differences between parents can cause a lot of stress and confusion for kids (and their parents). Try to find common ground, compromise where you can, and be consistent with your kids. Do what you can to avoid putting them in awkward and uncomfortable situations between parenting styles, rules, and expectations. If you can’t agree, consider employing a professional to help you work it out.
Take this opportunity to spend quality time with your children
Whether you’re with your child physically, or trying to maintain a connection remotely, take this opportunity to connect or reconnect with them and keep the focus on them. This really is a rare opportunity where parents and children are able to spend time together -- without the competing outside activities.
Some co-parents have revised their visitation schedule for the isolation period, and are feeling that the periods in-between visits are too long. Whether you’re physically together or not, you can still connect with your kids in a meaningful way during this unique opportunity.
Designate Space and Establish Agreements for Taking Alone-Time
When everyone is spending all of their time together in a confined space, it’s important to create or designate the space for household members to take time alone (for young children, this could be just a fort or tent in the living room). This alone time could be both scheduled and as-needed. Creating agreements about the alone-time and creating cues, such as dimming the lights, playing music or opening the windows, could help to support the much-needed breaks. Adults can model these coping skills for their children.
If you’re really struggling, remember that this has been a very sudden and major change for everyone, and it takes time to process and adapt. If you need help, please do not hesitate to contact Holly or me.
Holly Forman-Patel, LMFT, LPCC
Holly Forman-Patel is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. She has been working with children throughout her life in different capacities and settings, including as a preschool teacher, a therapist in the Berkeley School system and for the last decade in her therapy private practice.
Her specialties include not only working with anger but with children and their parents and with adults recovering from trauma. She is versed in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR), a proven way to support individuals who have experienced traumatic events and assists in facilitation at trainings for other therapists in EMDR. She additionally provides Parent Coaching to address behavioral challenges and is a consultant for therapists honing their craft.
She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. When she is not working, she enjoys cooking, gardening and anything involving comedy.
ALSO: Holly will be offering an activity book for kids (aged 5-8), which comes out at the end of May. The workbook includes 50+ activities around how to create insights about your anger and skills for moving through it. Contact her to be notified when it becomes available!