When Covid-19 has thrown unexpected complexities into our life, how do parents maintain sanity and equilibrium at home for out of school children?

There are times in life when we already feel somewhat overwhelmed and fearful. And then, when we think we can’t handle one more thing, something life-changing like Covid 19 hits us.  All of a sudden another country’s problem becomes our problem. Work demands are on going, our children are unexpectedly out of school, and we are having to deal with our own fears and stressors.

We want our children to feel secure even as they are being exposed to a continuous  drum beat of rumors, misinformation, and incorrect social media posts. The excitement of being out of school quickly fades into the reality of changed schedules, cancelled fun activities, and additional safety and health rules to follow. While we as adults are trying to  manage our world, we are further tested when we hear our children say “I am so bored, what can we do that’s fun?”

This is one of those times when parents must remember that our children are picking up on our  fears and insecurities. At the same time, they are learning from us as they observe how we handle our challenges.  We may want them to “rise to the occasion” by having more helpful behavior, but they will not do that without having a sense of our parental love and protection along with the security that brings.

To help our children in these uncertain times some of the following might be helpful:

1 – Be honest with our concerns, but do it in a measured way.  Communicate the need to take Covid-19 seriously without further escalating the fears of our children. 

2 – Discuss as a family the fact that each member will need to make adjustments to both routine and hygiene practices. 

3 – Help our children learn how to discern valid social media information from exaggerated or misleading information

4 – If children have been in school, their mindset of structured learning has been interrupted. In creative ways, continue to have learning take place at home. Remember that children are naturally curious. If they do not have classwork assigned by their school to do at home, this could be a great time to encourage academic learning at home in an area of personal interest. (Students frequently complain at school “why do we have to learn things that are so boring?” This could be a time that they could have an opportunity to learn things that they find interesting.)

5 – Because of fear, some people are irrationally buying  excessive quantities of supplies. Some people are greedy and are unwilling to share with others. This would provide a good learning opportunity to discuss our human nature versus Christ-like compassion and sharing. 

6 – When our children cannot understand complex problems, they observe the adult response to these problems.  Based upon what they see, they can be either reassured or are made both fearful and anxious.

7 – This is a good time to share specific  Bible verses that encourage our security and trust in the Lord such as:

“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1NLT)

Lisa Owens M.S., L.P.C.