Approaching another month of home quarantine, you may have found yourself among a growing number of parents frustrated by the efficacy of their parenting abilities during the COVID-19 crisis. Promoting the social and emotional wellness of your child is no easy feat — global pandemic or not.
The sudden, widespread discontinuation of in-person education is, as we touched on in an earlier article on the subject, an unprecedented occurrence that will permanently affect the lives of current and upcoming students. This sentiment likely evokes feelings of helplessness or anxiety for parents, many of whom can do little more to help flatten the curve and expedite the return to regularity than abide by CDC-mandated precautions.
However, your work as a parent in these uncertain times is entirely essential as well. So to bolster your efforts, we’ve collected some additional suggestions for supporting your child’s social-emotional health.
For most children, a school closure means the loss of accompanying peer and social groups. In a piece for Child Trends, child trauma experts Jessica Dym Bartlett, Jessica Griffin, and Dana Thomson emphasize the importance of helping your child re-create this socialization during quarantine:
“Social distancing should not mean social isolation. Children [...] need quality time with their caregivers and other important people in their lives. Social connectedness improves children’s chances of showing resilience to adversity.”1
Thankfully, we live in a digital age, and creative avenues for staying in contact are more abundant than ever for today’s technically savvy teens. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you guide your child in navigating their options for remote connectivity:
Exercise has long been a popular tool for stress management and mental health maintenance among adults. But just as our present circumstances require innovative approaches to socialization, the ending of sports practices and athletic classes may pose a challenge for encouraging your child to engage in regular daily physical activity. Try suggesting one of the below activities to participate in together or as a family to break up lengthy sedentary periods:
In addition to exercise, getting adequate sleep around a steady schedule is instrumental in the way your child processes and responds to their environment. “Sleep disruption has negative effects on emotional control, attention, and control of behavior,” explains Camille S. Johnson, Ph.D., in an article for Psychology Today. “They don't need to follow the same early morning routine, but they do need some structure around sleep.”2
For many parents, providing comfort and consistency for their children has become another full-time job amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Remember to take care of yourself as well, keeping in mind the words of Bartlett, Griffin, and Thomson: “Caregivers must take care of themselves so they have the internal resources to care for others.”
1. Bartlett, J. D., Griffin, J., & Thomson, D. (2020, March). Resources for Supporting Children’s Emotional Well-being During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Child Trends. Retrieved from https://www.childtrends.org/publications/resources-for-supporting-childrens-emotional-well-being-during-the-covid-19-pandemic
2. Johnson, C. S. (2020, March). Helping Your Teen Succeed at Remote Learning. Psychology Today. Retrieved fromhttps://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/its-all-relative/202003/helping-your-teen-succeed-remote-learning