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Pandemic Parenting: Being a conscious parent is even more crucial now

Updated: Feb 4, 2022

By: Prakriti Prasad

Why are you still on your computer when your online class ended an hour ago?

Why don’t you wake up on time to attend your class?

How can you have your lunch at 4 o’ clock?

How dare you talk to me like that?

Why is there nothing interesting to eat in our house?

Why can’t we order food today? Because we ordered yesterday and the day before.

What else is there to do when I’m confined with a set of boring people in this house?

Do any of these communication threads sound familiar?

Yes, the Pandemic has changed the dynamics of our lives immensely and our relationships with the important people who matter. It has thrown each one of us in a situation we had never dreamt or heard of. As a result, we have no clue how to deal with it

Among other things, it’s the relationship with our children, particularly the adolescents or young adults (12-20 years) which has been most deeply impacted due to the Pandemic.

Many households are reporting a marked increase in tensions, restlessness and aggressive behaviour in children.

Why is it so?

Children are the hardest hit

Even as the adults are struggling with the daily challenges related to finances, career, maintenance of the household and health, they are nevertheless stepping out. Moreover, adults have a well developed brain which has the ability to analyse and reason out the gravity of situations and their solutions.

As for the children, they have been confined within the four walls of the house for more than 15 months in a row. And few of them understand the reasoning behind their suspension of freedom. So, they are bound to be weary, angry, restless

and unhappy.

The two most important activities that we identify children with are:

-Going to school

-Going to play

Both these activities have been taken away from them, almost snatching away their childhood. It helps to remember, school is not just a place for curricular learning but a happy and safe place for children where they get the attention of teachers and friends. Besides not meeting friends or going for outings, something our children have become so used to as part of their daily existence, they are often at the receiving end of the anxieties and frustrations of the adults around them.

So the children are left with few options to keep themselves engaged/entertained other than being glued to their screens- either, mobile phones, gaming devices, tablets, televisions or their laptops, much to the displeasure of all the adults.

Why is effective conscious parenting crucial ?

It is extremely important for parents and other elders in the house to handle the children, whether preschoolers, adolescents or young adults, with sensitivity and consideration, particularly in these times.

Why is it so?

  1. To maintain a tension free atmosphere wherein tempers do not keep hitting the roof all the time. In times when there are no outlets for the pent up steam to release (like meeting or playing with friends) for children, it is bound to result in frequent outbursts.

  2. To protect our own peace: Constant battling with the children- handling their multiple demands and complaints often takes a toll on the mental peace of parents, particularly of mothers.

  3. To realise that this pandemic will shape the character and personality of our children in a big way. Their present experiences and their observations of other people’s responses around them will impact how these children will perceive trouble or tough situations, and process solutions when they grow up. This will decide whether they will come out battered or strengthened after every pitfall.

4 Key Steps to Effective Parenting

1. Communication is crucial

Effective communication is certainly the key to building and nurturing every relationship in our lives. But we need to be equally aware of the communication that we constantly and unconsciously have within our minds with ourselves.

So before focusing on the communication with our children, it is very important to watch the self-talk that we have with ourselves. For instance, are we always thinking “Oh! Our life is so tough, how will we make it through all this?” or is it “Thank God, we are safe. We are blessed to be better off than so many people.”

It is this self-talk which reflects our attitude and belief systems which in turn influence our children’s attitude and behaviour.

So the Pandemic is certainly the time to step up our communication with our children.

While it is imperative to educate them about the possible threats to our health in these times and why we need to exercise social distance, we must be careful not to transfer our fears, anxieties and uncertainties about the future.

Encourage them to share their worries, concerns and try to understand the reasons behind their outbursts. Have stimulating conversations about things that interest them- sports, nature, celebrities, cartoons or music,

2. Follow a definite schedule

Although children haven’t been going to school for quite some time now, it’s sensible to follow a fixed time schedule for everything- right from waking up to sleeping, having meals, for hobby classes, recreation or even chatting with friends. Most parents complain their children stay up late watching TV or Netflix and consequently wake up minutes before their online school. Looking unkempt and sleepy they seldom switch on their cameras despite being reprimanded by their teachers.

So the solution lies in everyone following a fixed timetable. Specific time boundaries help children prioritise work, studies and respect other people’s time as well. Children should be encouraged to make their own schedules so they do not feel it’s been imposed upon them by their parents. Get them to decide their own penalties in case of violations. This brings about a sense of freedom with responsibility in them.

Encourage them to take up chores or learn new skills of housekeeping like dusting, cleaning, watering the plants or taking out the trash and remember to compliment them on their little feats. A sure way of enforcing good behaviour in children is by suitably praising any positive act. Most parents often forget to praise good behaviour of their children thereby missing out on a powerful positive parenting tool.

3. Earmark Family Bonding Time

One of the many positive impacts of this Pandemic has been the slowing down of the fast paced lives we were living with seldom finding any time to unwind and relish each other’s company at leisure. While the parents had hectic work hours and a long commute to often return home a spent force, the children also shuttled between school, tuitions and hobby classes through the day.

So it makes great sense to use these times to forge that family bonding which had gone missing. Carve out specific time for family bonding activities like playing real time games (board games / antakshari / dumb charades), fixing music or movie nights, or watching video recordings of family holidays, children’s birthdays or their early years.

Having a fixed Family Reading Time is yet another great bonding activity which instils the invaluable habit of reading in children.

I also recommend having a quiet family time when you shut out all devices to just focus on connecting with each other, listening to their stories, sharing experiences and laughing together. This will go a long way in building your children’s sense of confidence, self worth and awareness.

4. Focus on Fitness & Right Breathing

The Pandemic has emphasised the importance of physical as well as mental fitness. All those people who gave exercise and a disciplined life a priority are the ones who successfully braved the disease and came out alive.

So parents, children and even the elderly grandparents need to follow a daily exercise regime- yoga, zumba, free hand exercises- anything works. As parents we need to do everything it takes- coax, cajole or bribe our children into following a fitness routine. Along with physical exercise it is equally important to focus on deep abdominal breathing to improve our immunity levels, strengthen our lungs and keep up our metabolism.

With a set of compassionate, considerate and sensitive parents who prioritise their children above anything, our youngsters are bound to come out of this Pandemic wiser and stronger future adults.

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