Parenting in a Pandemic

man hugging child

Connection during the COVID 19 pandemic has been challenging but it was found in our Parenting in a Pandemic Support Group. Kelly Dahl, LMSW, a co-facilitator of the parent support group said, “it helped me as a parent to reflect on some of the topics we covered and to hear other parents’ perspectives. Groups are so great for feeling a little less alone in a hard situation.”

While much of the content discussed in group sessions reflected the individual support needs of group members, each session also provided information relevant to the unique challenges of parenting during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Here are some of the main topics and what our therapists think is most important for you to know.

  1. Mindfulness and Mindful Parenting
    1. Mindful parenting is being present with your child and attentive to their needs without judgment. The best way to teach your children to be mindful is to be mindful yourself. Being mindful does not mean you won’t get distracted. Being mindful means noticing the distracting thoughts and returning to the task or thoughts you choose.
    2. Mindfulness practices include counting breath activities, mindful eating, and can even be found on apps such as Headspace and Calm. A special tip, Headspace is now a show on Netflix.
  2. Structure and Routine
    1. Engaging, predictable environments and ongoing positive adult-child interactions are necessary for promoting children’s social and emotional development and preventing challenging behaviors. You can help by following clear and simple schedules and routines.
    2. There’s a difference, “schedule” represents the big picture and includes main activities that happen across the day, “routines” are the steps needed to complete each part of the schedule.
    3. Schedules and routines help reduce power struggles and as a result, the child is more cooperative, they help children with teaching independence and responsibility and help children understand that responsibilities have to be met in order to have fun, and as such, they reduce the dreaded: “I want it and I want it now.”
  3. Rethinking Screen Time and Staying Connected Virtually
    1. Research says children ages 18 months – 24 months should be limited to video chatting or high-quality media that is watched with a caregiver. Watching media alone is not recommended. Children ages 2 – 5 years old should be limited to 1 hour of high-quality programming however, there is no “one size fits all” recommendation for children ages 6 years and up.
    2. Consider things like this when rethinking screen time: what kind of media is being consumed, how much time is being spent off the screen, is the media interactive, does it provide meaningful social interaction.
    3. Monitor your child’s mood, weight, sleep changes, and eye strain. These could all be signs that screen time management is needed.
  4. Self-Care
    1. Self-care It is an activity that we deliberately do to care for our mental, emotional, and physical health. Self-care is not selfish, strengthening the relationship with yourself overflows into relationships with others.
    2. There are two golden rules to self-care. First, you must plan to do it. Self-care is practice, write it in your planner, add it to your schedule, and tell others. Second, keep a conscious mind. If you are practicing a form of self-care that isn’t “filling your bucket”, don’t do it. Pay attention to what you do, why you do it, how it feels, and what the outcomes are.

Raising children is a challenging job that becomes even more complex during a pandemic. You’ve felt it in more way than one. Our team of multidisciplinary professionals are providing unwavering care with both in-office and telehealth appointments to support guardians of school-aged children. Call our office at 616-35-8920 to learn more about our support services or to schedule an appointment.