Parents play crucial role in helping children, teens cope with pandemic stress

Parents play crucial role in helping children, teens cope with pandemic stress

Find ways to stay connected and busy as a family. Even though they can’t see their friends like normal, there’s still plenty families can do together to enjoy themselves. Board games, picnicking and hiking are a few of Shefner’s family-time suggestions. Now is a good time, she added, to think about what activities you can do as the weather gets colder to stay engaged with each other and with external family and friends. Seeking refuge outdoors won’t be as easy in a few months.

Limit screen time, especially in the evenings. Adults have trouble disconnecting, so don’t assume children can police their own device use. The constant barrage of input from screens is mentally taxing for children, according to Shefner, not to mention the emotional impact of news and social media. “Along with the pandemic, so many other things are happening right now and there are a lot of messages that kids are receiving that they may not totally understand,” she said.

Look on the bright side. With the current onslaught of negativity and “bad” news, Krapf said parents can set a positive tone in their own homes by encouraging children to express gratitude at least once a day. She suggests just before bed family members share one good thing that happened to them today and one thing they are looking forward to. “Those positive focuses can really help change the mindset of what we are experiencing,” Krapf said.

Take care of yourself first. File this one under the “put your oxygen mask on first” advice we get during air travel. Here on Earth – just like 35,000 feet in the sky – our ability to be of use to anyone else is severely limited when we are in distress. If you are one of those parents juggling the new role of teacher along with your pre-COVID responsibilities, self-care is must, the doctors said. It can be a hobby or an activity or simply some quiet meditation or eating a well-balanced diet, make time for anything that helps you function better.

“As parents we often put kids first,” Krapf said, “So, self-care is not our primary thought, and when so many demands are put on us – like they are now – you have to be very intentional about self-care, recognizing that it’s absolutely necessary to be a good parent.”

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