Stay -at -Home Children? – Helping Parents Adjust to School Closures

Stay -at -Home Children? – Helping Parents Adjust to School Closures

Over the past three to four weeks the words “novel coronavirus” and “COVID-19” have become household names, globally.  From children to seniors, pretty much everywhere you go most everyone is talking about… (yep, you guessed it!)… novel coronavirus and COVID-19!  Another popular conversation (or therapy session depending on how you look at it) is about the quarantine order many of the states have issued for its citizens, making it mandatory for all households to hunker down and stay put until the spread and threat of the pandemic lessens and is eventually controlled.  However, many households with young children, teens or both (yikes!) have been thrust into a new world which now has become their everyday reality – School-at-Home. 

School-at-Home, different from homeschooling, has many moms and dads alike working to find creative (and calm) ways to help their children adjust to the drastic changes in their daily schedules and routines.   Questions like “what should I do with my children?” or “how will I pass the time?” leave parents in search of answers to challenges that seemingly present themselves on a weekly basis, such as:

  • Feelings of being overwhelmed
  • Not sure what to do with children during the day
  • Body movement: Indoor and outdoor activities
  • Addressing children’s concerns about COVID-19
  • Finding ways to create daily structure
  • Social isolation of both the children and parents
  • Homework packet and virtual assignment deadlines in addition to parental workloads and deadlines
  • Self-care and balance (for the whole family)

With more demands – unexpected demands, that is – many parents have been left scrambling to adapt, yet at the same time, others have discovered newfound support and avenues to assist their children in partnership with their teachers (who too are adjusting to this steep learning curve!)

Thankfully, even during this high-stress time there are ways for parents to address and conquer their challenges and find new strides.  Here are few tips to help put parents on their way to a more successful and calm “coronavirus quarantine” till school is back in session!

Helpful Tips

  1. Create structure
    • Keep regular household schedules and bedtimes. Structure helps children self-regulate because they understand what they can and cannot do.
    • Keeping a schedule helps parents complete their own tasks and aids in providing foundational support and direction to lean on during chaotic or high-energy times (i.e.: 1-hour of reading, 30 minute freewrite, 1-hour of music time, etc.
  2. Stay connected to support systems (and/or develop new ones with friends!)
    • Even with social distancing measures in place, our humanness still wants to be connected with one another.
    • Use virtual resources and technology to connect to family, friends, therapists, spiritual leaders, teachers, etc.
    • Call someone or send messages communicating your needs.  You may be surprised who can help or who also needs to connect in the same way.
    • Remember, children need to feel safe and connected.  Give them free screen time to engage with friends and family.
    • Embrace your children at random times throughout the day.
  3. Engage with children on their terms
    • Pick a time to let your child(ren) lead you in something they like or want to do in the house (even outside on the patio or in the yard works too).
    • Stay interested in learning about them.
    • Watch a movie, play a video game, let children tell you a story, etc.
    • Be open and share age-appropriate information when they ask questions.
  4. Give yourself a break
    • Cut yourself some slack.  Everyone is dealing with the stress of the pandemic in their own way so be sure to take a break to do what you enjoy.
    • Don’t beat yourself and learn to give yourself some grace when you make a mistake.
    • Put yourself on “time-out.”  Time-out is a great way to recalibrate and spend brief moments of quietness without busyness.
  5. Have fun
    • Go online and look-up activities, arts and crafts – and then do them!
    • Make games into learning activities.
    • Think outside the box.  This can be a time of nontraditional learning that can help children become more engaged and use more of their imagination.
    • Laugh often and remember to just have fun (and be silly if you can too!) Every grandparent will tell you that kids grow up fast, so choose to enjoy this time and remember to have fun and laugh often – two great stress relievers everyone needs right now!

Avedian Counseling Center is offering three free individual sessions to a limited number of people. And, Talin Honarchian, LMFT, will be starting a free virtual support group on Mondays at 11 am for those directly impacted by the Coronavirus. Call us at (818) 426-2495 to learn more.

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