Disclaimer :: Fort Worth Moms requested the good folks at ACH Child and Family Services to write this article. Recent reports revealed severe child abuse cases are on the rise in the midst of the social changes caused by coronavirus.
We get daily reminders that there is not a definitive guide to being a parent. Yet, many parents are experiencing similar things while trapped inside the home. What is fun one day, can be maddening the next. How parents and caregivers react can be defining for us and more for our kids, who in times like these face increased risk for abuse. Realize that your words and actions can last a lifetime in memories.
There are always the basics that we can do to reinforce the value and priority of family. It is important to set expectations for each other (adults and kids). While technology is important, it is the human element that keeps us connected. Make relationships a priority.
And, know that everyone is struggling. Plan for the ups and downs that chaos and changing routines bring. We have different struggles and needs, but recognize they are real, especially for our children.
So, however you are working through it, give yourself and your kids a break and eliminate judgement — of them and you. Here are six ideas to consider making part of your family routine.
1. Set the family schedule. Setting expectations is important for everyone. Children have school, play, and free time. Parents have work time or time to rethink their future. By setting schedules, no one has to feel guilty about what he or she is doing or not doing. The schedule can incorporate changing responsibilities so that everyone has variety in pitching in each week.
Try this: Set a weekly calendar with defined times for family as well as individual responsibilities and fun.
2. Exhibit strategic patience. The space is confined. The stress is real. And, patience is limited in many households. Your child may be experiencing boredom while confined to home. Be less quick to raise a voice or discipline, and more intentional in the opportunity to reason, teach, and connect. It is an opportunity to teach kids that boredom is okay. It is up to the parent to be the leader and exhibit the behaviors that the children will follow.
Try this: Read one article on mindfulness and be open to attempting a five-minute daily meditation on breathing.
3. Express vulnerability. We all feel something. Some feel despair and anxiety. Others feel differently. What we cannot do is keep these feelings hidden inside. Show and share your vulnerability, not in a scary way, but in an age-appropriate way that encourages discussion and opens conversation. It is okay for your child to know mom or dad is having a tough day and can work through it. Be open and remind you child how important it is to connect with and trust family. Encourage conversations with you, family, and friends.
Try this: Have a conversation with your child about your day and the different emotions you experienced and how you overcame a challenge.
4. Make your own fun. These are the moments that will last not only the night, but a lifetime. Make fun happen, even when you are distracted or struggling. No idea is too silly! This is the time to find fun in learning new things or as we say in chasing the rabbit – help your kids explore some new topic of interest, something to read or research, or some new hobby, even learning a new instrument online.
Try this: Create a dance party or make your own music video as a family.
5. Celebrate each day. It is hard to celebrate in times of challenge, but there are still wins in the darkest days. Find something to celebrate each day. End every family meal with each person celebrating one positive take-a-way from the meal, the day, or some other time. Teach gratitude for what your child has, and most important, for who he or she is as a person. Find ways to celebrate your kiddo and you!
Try this: Start a positivity journal with each child and write down one thing that he or she is grateful for each day. Get the child to focus on him- or herself and successes, regardless of age.
6. Love them. There is nothing more important than love. When he or she acts out, when there are tears, when kids fight or retreat, when there is yelling or arguments, each child is looking for love. Find extra ways to express your love — with words, with a story, with notes, with a hug, with extra reassurance. For good or bad, our children hear the news and know what is going on in the world. Children need to know that it will be okay, and even if things are different, he or she will be okay and will always be loved.
Try this: Pick a moment to pull each child away separately and say how proud you are and how much you love him or her. Tell a story from his or her childhood that makes you both laugh and reconnect. Get back to the “good old days.”
While there is no definitive guide, there is all the imagination and experimentation at your fingertips. Some days will be better and more fun and productive than others — that is life! Be real, be you, and keep doing what you have always done. Be aware that the best thing you can do is simply love your child. Use this time to be fully present. You’ve got this!
ACH Child and Family Services is a non-profit agency located Fort Worth, Texas, serving North Texas communities with many different programs designed to protect children and preserve families. Its bilingual professionals are ready to assist families through crisis situations 24/7 at 817.335.HOPE (4673) or email [email protected].
Need help parenting? ACH’s Real Help for Real Life program provides FREE youth and family counseling and FREE skill building classes in Tarrant, Johnson, Hill, Parker, and Palo Pinto counties. Whether it’s anxiety or depression, conflict at home or school, anger management issues, school attendance or behavior problems, reckless and criminal behavior, or thoughts of running away – it is here to help youth ages six to 17 and families. Visit www.realhelpforreallife.org or call 817.335.HOPE (4673) for more information.
Visit www.achservices.org for more information on all of our programs and services.