Advice for the Shelter-in-Place Experienced Parent

By Auritte – Celsius and Beyond’s Founder and Director

By now, you are a “Shelter in Place” pro.  You know everything about the Coronavirus after reading dozens, if not hundreds, of articles about it.  After you have spent long weeks with your children at home, you know them better than ever.  You even got really good in 5th-grade math! You are familiar with every button and feature of Zoom.  You feel you could write a book about sheltering in place with kids!

What advice can anyone possibly give you about self-quarantining at this point?

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We may have become wiser, but the conditions haven’t changed much.  We are still separated from our friends and extended family.  We have lost many of our personal freedoms.  Some of us have lost significant income and savings.  Some of us feel anxiety, depression, a sense of loss, anger, sadness, loss of control, and fear. Most of us have just simply had enough.   

Regardless of how you feel, your children’s mental well-being is strongly depends on you. You are the bridge between them and the outside world.  Here are three points that and experts believe are most important:

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Stay Clam – radiate to your child optimism and a sense of calm.  If you have concerns, be honest and authentic.  Share them with your child and emphasis that your home is a safe place and that you are protecting them.  Numerous studies show a direct correlation between a parent’s ability to deal with stress and their behavior in times of crisis. [J1] Your child rely on you to provide them with safety and security.

Radiate to your child(ren) warmth, calm, and optimism.   

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Give your child structure – after several weeks in quarantine, we may lose our drive to follow structure.  Children must have a structure to develop their brain’s executive function.  Executive function refers to different cognitive abilities including resisting impulses, decision-making, planning, flexible reasoning, and regulating behaviors and emotions. 

Stick to your set time of waking up, going to sleep, mealtimes, schoolwork, homework, and other daily routines.

Listen to your child – Every child is concerned about different things. Some are concerned about the impact the outbreak will have on the relationships with their friends.  Others about getting sick, their school work, or the sports team.  The best way to understand your child’s specific concern is by listening to them. Remember that your job as a parent is not to provide a solution to every one of your child’s problems.  You could help them by first defining or naming their feeling: fear[J1] , or concern.  Assure them that it is normal and that other children feel the same. Remind them that summer science camp is just around the corner! Help them make adopt to the situation. 

When listening to your child, express empathy and communicate hope.    

Crises do not always lead to negative consequences.  Successful handling of crises can help your child further develop self-appreciation, self-reliance, and self-image.  They will learn resilience to deal with life’s upheavals, such as problem-solving, creative thinking, prioritization, and taking initiative. 

For your family, it’s a way to get to know each other better and spend quality time.  Enjoy this.

Very soon, you and your child will look back with amazement at how you pulled through this difficult and straining situation like pros!

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