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Parenting in lockdown

During a global event, we’re all making adjustments and looking for ways to cope. As a parent, you know that your children are still relying on you for support. You want to give them everything they need, but it isn’t always easy – especially when you’re dealing with your own worries.

Coping together as parents

Parents who focus on supporting each other as a couple, are more likely to be able to deal with the stresses of parenting [1]. If you can listen to each other, share the burden, and present a united front, you’ll find it gets easier to come to agreements about parenting [2]. Your children will cope better too – they’ll be less likely to feel sad or anxious, or to act out through stress [3].

Talking to children about the situation

It can be hard to know how much to tell your children about everything that’s going on. They will already know a lot because of the changes they’ve had to make in their lives and, depending on their age, they may have picked up information from the news or from their friends.

But, with lots of uncertainty and new information coming out every day, you might want to protect them from knowing too much. It’s natural to want to protect your children but shielding them from difficult news can actually be worse for them than just answering their questions. It’s usually best just to tell the truth.

How to answer children’s questions

Generally, if your child is ready to ask a question, they are ready to hear the answer. You don’t have to tell them everything – keep their age in mind, and only tell them as much as is necessary to answer their question. They can always ask a follow-up question if they want to know more.

If you don’t know something, say so. There’s lots we’re not sure about at the moment and it’s better to be honest. If there’s something you’re not comfortable answering, you could try asking your child why they’ve asked that particular question. You could also ask them what they already know, as this can help you understand where they’re coming from.

Children are reassured by the information they get from their parents, and it’s helpful for them to know they can rely on you [4] [5]. When they feel informed about what’s going on, they can get on with being kids again.

Get them drawing

Some younger children might find it hard to talk about their worries. Very young children often don’t have the words to describe what they’re feeling. One thing you can do to help them express themselves is to get them drawing. Grab some pens or pencils and invite them to draw something that shows how they’re feeling. Children can often find it easier to express themselves in this way [6].

A bit of fun

It can be hard to find time to relax, especially if you’re trying to fit home schooling around working from home. But, if you can, try to build in some time for fun activities with the children – even it’s just playing or reading together.

When you look back on all this, you might find that your role has just been to help your children stay calm and healthy. Don’t put too much pressure on yourselves to do anything more than that. Take it a day at a time and keep looking after each other – that’s all anyone can really ask of you.

References

[1] Brown, 2012
[2] Zemp, Milek, Cummings, & Bodenmann, 2017
[3] Zemp, Bodenmann, Backes, Sutter-Stickel, & Revenson, 2016.
[4] Kennedy, V. L., & Lloyd‐Williams, M., 2009
[5] Osborn, T., 2007
[6] Eiser & Twamley, 1999

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