By now, most of us have either been in an actual lockdown, or we have experienced what it’s like to stay home for hours upon hours. Is it boring? Depressing? Downright difficult? All of them at once? Many negative thoughts and feelings are perfectly normal at these times, and this article aims to help you and your child come up with tools and strategies to tackle all the negativity.
- Do a Self-check
You always have an impact on your child’s reality.
For your child, especially when they’re younger, it all starts (and/or ends) with you. Your child looks at you and up to you most of the time. If they see you reading a lot of books, they will perceive reading as a good activity. If they see you depressed all the time, depression might as well turn into a general mood and linger. Care for yourself and others around you, and set your child an example.
If you are already setting a good example, know that there is always room for improvement. These points might help you develop:
- Are you authentic in your caring? Or are you just pretending because it’s “good for the children”? Don’t pretend; really care.
- Are you sustainable in your care? Or do you crumble from time to time? Unsustainability means there is a problem; with your practices or with other things.
- Are you open to teaching your child what to do? If you see your child struggle, will you sit down and keep their attention hooked as you explain a difficult concept or practice?
- Do you communicate well? You could even directly tell your child how you’ve tackled that problem; maybe they will be interested in knowing more about it! (It’s fine if they aren’t interested; constant, quality communication is what to focus on.)
- Brainstorm for Problems
What are you dealing with?
If you are trying to “minimize the effects of COVID-19”, you should first know what those effects are, and the problems behind them. At this stage, grab a pen and paper or get on a keyboard, and write down every problem that comes to mind. This is effectively brainstorming, or doing a “brain dump”.
These don’t have to be necessarily related to the pandemic, they don’t have to be very clear, and they might not be such terrible things at all. Have your child’s sleep and wake times changed? Do they show lower interest in school? Are they eating less (or more) than before? Are they spending much more time watching TV? Do they seem to snap at you more than before? Did they use to get up with one alarm, and now set five and still sleep in? Write all of these down.
- Narrow Down and Categorize
Work with the list, see how it can help you.
You now have a comprehensive jumble of everything that comes to mind when you hear “problems with my child”. Now you should do two things:
1- Cross off irrelevant items
Feel free to ask any and all questions you think can help. Which of these problems are in fact caused by the pandemic? Hasn’t this particular problem always been there? Am I the source of this problem, not my child? (This last one is to say, make sure you aren’t projecting. Be quite honest with yourself!)
Don’t underestimate your parental instincts either; if you feel something is wrong and you don’t have objective proof, keep the item on the list but do look for proof. You might refer to past activities, or reach out to close friends and relatives for insight.
2- Categorize the rest
This is only to help you take appropriate action, so categorize however you’re more comfortable. Here are two different categorization systems to give you ideas:
- Categorizing according to your own knowledge of problems; this will give you a better plan of action.
- Category 1: Problems I Know How to Solve (You probably take immediate action on these, because you’re a specialist or you have a well-proven solution down your sleeve.)
- Category 2: Problems I Know About (You probably go investigate possible solutions, and maybe decide to move these to Category 3 below!)
- Category 3: Problems for the Specialist (You probably shouldn’t act alone. Severe insomnia, depression, anger management, etc.)
- Categorizing according to type of health; this will allow you to balance your care. (You may want to add Spiritual Health or Emotional Health as well, depending on your conception of health.)
- Category 1: Physical Health (Matters that have to do with your child’s body, like regular exercise and sleep)
- Category 2: Mental Health (Matters that have to do with your child’s mind, like learning and problem-solving)
- Category 3: Social Health (Matters involving interactions with other people)
3- Take Action
You should decide on what to do and what not to do.
Now, you have an organized list, and thus a better chance of coming up with concrete actions you can take to help your child.
Some problems, you may decide, have clear-cut solutions. Start with these. Does your child miss the time spent at the park playing with other children? Are they delighted beyond measure at seeing streets and spaces that were taken for granted before? (We observe all safety protocols at Clever; don’t hesitate to contact us if we can be of service!)
In addition, you may have other, less clear ideas on your list. We encourage you to read up on each and every one of them; then come up with creative solutions. (After all, you know your child best.) There are, for example, hundreds of articles out there aiming to help with children’s sleep cycles.
- Take It Easy
It’s a process, like practically everything else.
Finally, remember that reversing the effects of something as all-consuming as a global pandemic is not going to happen overnight. (For yourself or your child.) You should look at this as a (potentially long) process, and embody much patience.
Add to this the fact that no two people are the same; something that has worked with your friend’s child might not work for yours at all. If you don’t see results or you simply don’t feel very right, try another solution and keep on the path!
- You can’t support your child in something you yourself are grappling with; dedicate some time to yourself.
- Come up with as many problems as you’d like.
- Categorize these problems, cross out the irrelevant ones, make sure they are what they seem to be.
- Focus your efforts on solutions, one problem at a time.
- Have patience; this is going to be a long process.