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10 Tips for Parenting Your Children Through the Corona Virus Pandemic

1. PLAN / MAKE THINGS PREDICTABLE FOR YOUR CHILD

This is a difficult time for everyone, your child is no different. Your child experiences stress and anxiety just like you and I. They need to be informed. Help them understand what is happening and why, particularly why there is no school, why they are home and why they still need to complete school-work, whilst at home. Solutions In Mind have many resources available to you to help inform your child of all of these changes visually. Please reach out and we can support you with a range of social stories or visual supports individually tailored for your child to support them and your family.

2. STRUCTURE / ROUTINE

Your child needs rules, routine and structure whilst they are at home 24/7. Without it your child will likely be anxious and may display many behavioural difficulties. These times are already stressful enough without adding additional stress. We therefore encourage rules, a daily and weekly routine to support your child. A routine for your child can also help you. You can then plan around the things you need to complete at home such as daily chores and cooking whilst keeping your child busy and entertained. Solutions In Mind can support you and your family to develop an individualised routine for you and your family that caters for the needs of everyone in the family, including you the parent. We can support you to develop and enforce the rules of the house and to get it running like a well-oiled machine. Children don’t have great attention spans. We need to ensure that they are not left unoccupied for too long. We also need to make sure that they are not making and enforcing the rules of the house and that you are. This means you decide when they have technology time and for how long. Not them. This means you decide when they snack and eat, not them. This means you decide when they go to bed, not them. Learn how to take the control back in your house and say no confidently and effectively so that your child respects you and listens to you the first time.

3. MANAGING SCHOOLWORK

By now, you may have acquired the additional role of a teacher, home schooling your child or children. This is just another thing to add to your already busy workload. If you have more than one child at home, this becomes even more difficult. Stay in touch with your child’s teacher if you can, so that you can keep on top of the required or set schoolwork expectations. This is well and good for older children but for younger primary school aged children or children with special needs this is not always possible. My advice to you is just do the best job that you possibly can. If you can only manage to sit with your child and complete 10, 15, or even 30 minutes of schoolwork a day, that is perfectly fine. You are only one person and can only achieve so much. Solutions In Mind will be rolling out some online learning opportunities in the next few weeks to support ongoing skills development, anxiety management, parenting, emotions management, and social skills development. Stay tuned for our updates and emails. Alternatively, if there are any particular online learning opportunities you would like us to run please let us know.

4. MANAGING CHALLENGING BEHAVIOUR

Work with your Psychologist / Behaviour Support Clinician to build your confidence in managing your child during these difficult times. They will help and support you to manage all the difficult behaviours you might be experiencing. This includes non-compliance, disrespectful behaviour, aggression, pica, self-injury and absconding. We are very experienced in this area and can support you to manage these difficult behaviours. You don’t have to do it alone. It’s OK to ask for help. We are here to help! We can help you put in place strategies, and reward systems to see more specific desirable behaviour in your home.

5. SOCIAL CONNECTION

Social distancing does not mean social disconnection. Stay in touch with your family and your support network. You have a team of supports behind the scenes that are ready and willing to support you as well as your child through these difficult times. Your Psychologist / Behaviour Support Clinician are a phone call / video consult away. Use them. Don’t feel guilty. That is what they are there for. No one needs to do it alone. Maintaining your mental health and your child’s mental health is important.

6. MANAGING YOUR STRESS AND ANXIETY

The media has been constantly reporting on these being unprecedented times. They are clearly events that we have never experienced. There is much uncertainty, and we all have many unanswered questions, heightened stress and anxiety levels. How long will things be like this? Will we be OK? When will the kids go back to school? Will I still have a job? Can I pay my rent / mortgage? Will there be any toilet paper in the shop? Parenting is hard at the best of times, but these added stressors make it even harder and much more complex. Unfortunately, we have no control over many of the things that are happening in the world. All we can do is follow the guidance of NSW Health, The Australian government and local police. We can do our best to stay at home and follow the social distancing rules and wash our hands. Lets, focus on all the things we can control. What you can control is your thinking, your emotions and your actions. Stay positive. Remain calm for your children. If you are stressed and anxious, they are stressed and anxious. Don’t take it out on them, it is not their fault. It is what it is. It will pass. We will all get through this difficult time together.

7. SELF – CARE

Maintain your interests if you can. You cannot be the best parent you can be if you are not looking after yourself first. Your child / children need you fit and healthy. To maintain this you need to put your own needs first. Give yourself permission to relax and do something you enjoy, even if it is only briefly. Cook your favourite meal, watch your favourite TV shows, take that bubble bath, do that craft project, chat to your friends / family online, use respite (if they are available), play that game on your phone, have that glass of wine, etc. Be kind to yourself – you deserve it.

8. EXERCISE

If you and your child are able - get outside. Get some fresh air in the back yard. Incorporate outdoor time in your child’s daily schedule. This might include trampoline time, a bike ride, climbing equipment, walking / playing the dog, etc. If you can’t get outside, incorporate some physical exercise into your child’s routine by doing scavenger hunts through the house, or getting them active on the WII. If they need to exert their unlimited energy, get them carrying the washing basket, moving the wheelie bins, running up and down the hills in the park, racing through the house to be the first to get their PJ’s on, or the first to get dressed. Consider even completing a Tik Tok dance with your kids or engaging them in Solutions In Mind Lil Yogi’s Yoga program.

9. FAMILY TIME CAN BE FUN

Incorporate some family fun time into your weekly schedule. This might include family movie night (with popcorn), family game / card night (Board games / UNO competitions) or weekly rewards for good behaviour such as bonus technology time, special treats. Family time doesn’t always have to be stressful, make some time for some fun. Read to your child, sit and do something with them that they are interested in. It doesn’t have to be for long. Ten minutes of family fun can often be plenty.

10. REMAIN POSITIVE

These difficult times will not last forever. You have raised and parented your child through many difficult times before. This includes the 6-week XMAS / New Year school holidays previously. You have gotten through all of them. You have survived. You have got this!!! You are doing a great job and we see you! You have the skills to get this done! Remind yourself daily of 1-2 things you are grateful for. E.g. “I am grateful my kids are healthy, and we don’t have coronavirus;” etc. Write yourself a few positive affirmations and read them aloud to yourself regularly. Remind yourself of the great job you are doing, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.

*** Principal Psychologist Kasha Bedford will be running parent support groups, to allow parents to share their stories, get some advice and have the opportunity to be provided with the extra support they may need during this time. Please express your interest or call the office to find out more! ***