parenting during a pandemic

Theresa Y. Wee, M.D.
March 23, 2021

It’s been a year of social distancing, isolation, working and schooling from home, and other safety precautions. We’ve had to cope with a lot of changes throughout the year. These disruptions can often cause stress and chaos at home and lead to a feeling of imbalance for family routines.

During a major disruption, parenting patterns often become less organized. This results in less discipline and parent-child interactions. Children can start to regress and become upset, angry, aggressive, clingy, and anxious. This can lead parents to scold, yell, and punish more.

It’s important to maintain routines to regain a sense of control for physical and mental health. Maintaining routines after a major disruption helps reassure children and teens to expect continuity in their relationships with parents. Here are some tips:

Eat meals at regular times. This provide a sense of security. Eating together also helps maintain communication.

Set a daily schedule. Although you’re at home all day, set times for school, play, exercise, and hygiene, such as teeth brushing or bathing. This provides more structure and meaning to your day. Exercise and play also help reduce stress.

Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Adequate sleep and naps help stabilize mood and reduce irritability.

Continue with regular chores. This sends a message that life continues as usual. Children will also have a sense of control and feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction for helping the family.

Maintain discipline. Expect your children to continue to follow rules.

Caught in a tense situation? Pause and sit quietly to reflect on your feelings before reacting. This can be an excellent teachable moment to share with your children.

Remember that you’re their role model and they watch and observe your behavior. Provide leadership to guide your child’s behavior, attitudes, and beliefs. This will benefit your child now and in the long term. Being a role model also means including your child in family discussions, living a healthy lifestyle, staying positive, and taking responsibility for your actions.

You have an important influence on your child’s values and future choices. The stronger the relationship with your child, the more influence you’ll have.

Theresa Y. Wee, M.D., is a pediatrician who practices in Waipio and specializes in pediatric obesity and wellness.

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