Being a parent can be overwhelming. Especially nowadays during our new norm: COVID. Since the pandemic began, I have noticed an overall pattern when working with parents and families. The majority of families have been facing increasing overwhelm at home since the pandemic began due to many factors.
Here are some strategies that can help bring back peace and calm to your home.
Make sure you have routines in place, especially during times of transition or high stress. Letting children know what to expect and preparing them prior can help reduce their stress levels. It’s also helpful to incorporate rituals that promote connection and attachment. This allows for children to emotionally regulate. They match your energy state. If you’re calm and connected, they can use you as a tool to calm down and eventually learn to calm themselves down, too.
Conscious Discipline – I Love You
“I love you” rituals build connections between adults and children by incorporating eye contact, touch, and presence in a playful situation. Think patty cake when they were babies. Kids still need this kind of eye contact and presence from their parents. Giving it to them on a regular basis helps kids tolerate limit-setting and give better responses to parent requests, as well as learn to utilize parents to emotionally regulate.
Stress is also often created when we as parents feel pulled in two or maybe 5 different directions, i.e. trying to prepare dinner while your child is pulling on your shirt demanding your attention.
Young children believe we should be on constant retainer and available at all times. They’re not trying to distract or bother you. It’s not just about getting your attention. It’s about them trying to maintain the connection. Give your child a job while you’re doing your job.
Organize them before they start. Give them a time frame. Say something along the lines of “When the timer goes off we’ll do something together”. For example, while you’re cooking dinner, tell your child “it’s your job to build the biggest tower”. Make eye contact and acknowledge them. Say: “I see you. I’m preparing something for dinner, when I’m done we can play together.”
Carve out time to intentionally play with your children. Oftentimes, children play out things in their world through play. When we allow our children to invite us into their world by being curious observers, we can better understand their view of the world and how to best support them. “Watch, wait and wonder” is a model on which this concept is based.
This allows the parent to be reflective about the child’s inner world of feelings, thoughts, and desires through which the parent recognizes the child is a separate being with their own thoughts and feelings, and the parent can gain an understanding when they are triggered or their own emotional response to the child. (Ex. of parent teaching during playtime vs. just being curious)
The best advice of all? Know your own limits.
Recognize what you need to feel an overall sense of calm and build these times of release into the day. Try some of the following activities to cope and decompress:
- Yoga with your child
- Putting relaxing music on
Notice when you are feeling stressed and attend to this need out loud in front of your kids by saying: “Things are feeling kind of stressful right now. Let’s put on our calm down song and reset.”
You can easily begin implementing these new strategies at home today!
By: Lindsey Epstein Webster, LCSW