Blog: Anxiety and Parenting in the New Normal
COVID-19 remains as a primary source of anxiety for most of the world, especially for families. Parents and caregivers are concerned with how to bring up children in a world-changing in uncertain ways. As a helping hand for worried parents, the staff of Hanover Pediatrics has some tips to guide you during the COVID-19 era.
1. Normalize anxiety.
Anxiety is a natural reaction to our current circumstances. Have discussions with your family about everyone's mental and emotional state. Give your children, and yourselves, the freedom and openness to express worries and concerns, and offer support to each other. Allowing for these kinds of open, judgment-free discussion helps everyone to feel supported and less alone.
2. Rethink household rules.
As child psychologist Dona Matthews writes, “Give up as much power and control as you can, including loosening the media rules, without undermining your child’s physical and mental health. Do insist, though, for your own well-being and that of others in your household, that your teenager takes some responsibility for managing their moods, not imposing their grouchiness unduly on the rest of the family. (And obviously, the grouchiness rule applies to parents too.)”
3. Respect your child’s brief and losses.
This is especially true if your child(ren) is a teenager. In just the past months we’ve seen high school and college graduates miss out on proms, graduation ceremonies, sports games, school plays, and other milestones in young people’s lives. As Matthews writes, “Hanging out with friends, playing baseball, participating in the spring recital, or attending parties may not seem important to you, but this is the most important stuff of your teen’s life. Be sensitive and understanding with your child’s misery. It is real.” Rather dismissing your child’s feelings as simple “teen angst”, listen to them and recognize the experiences they are missing by remaining at home.
4. Restrict pandemic news consumption.
Keeping up with what’s going on in the world is important, and nowadays news about the virus seems to dominate the media. But it’s easy to spiral into fear and anxiety when your mind is bombarded by bad news. Discuss with your family how much news everyone is willing to consume at a time, and make time to turn off the television and focus on something else.
5. Expect conflict.
It would be unrealistic to put people under the same roof for long durations of time and not expect conflict, and there is no magical formula to eliminate all drama. Whenever there is conflict, recognize the problem and collaborate with family members involved to resolve it.
6. Balance time together and time apart.
In times of quarantine, people need support from those around more than ever, but also need ways to remain privacy while living in close quarters. Talk with your children to find ways to balance offering discussion and support while offering space for them to do what they want, whether it’s allowing them alone time in their room or bonus/playroom, and the same goes for you.
7. Look for ways to help others.
It’s to feel powerless during a crisis, and this feeling of powerlessness can feed into fear and anxiety. Look for ways your family can help others during the pandemic. Giving to local food banks and charities, offering encouragement on social media, reaching out to those especially isolated, or even just following the simple rules of physical distancing and wearing a mask. Finding ways to help others not only lifts up those who are struggling, but helps ease feelings of powerlessness, and shows your child how to respond positively in times of unease.
8. Find joy in everyday life.
Finding pieces of happiness can help offer respite in times of stress. It especially helps if these activities involve the whole family. Whether it's a family movie night, playing a board game, doing arts-and-crafts or baking a sweet treat, finding pockets of light can give us hope, mental relief, as well as a distraction when it's appropriate. Have your children try new hobbies, like reading new books, playing new games, or trying a new activity like painting or cooking. Have your children write letters to others they are unable to visit. Changing things around can help ease quarantine fatigue.
Let our team help your family.
The COVID-19 era is fraught with anxieties about the larger world, and quarantine indoors for long periods can create tension even between loved ones. But open communication and being willing to address these tensions can help ease the journey as we survive our way out of this difficult period.
Hanover Pediatrics is aware of the struggles parents are facing during this time, and are eager to help. You can call for an appointment, ask for help at the front desk, or talk to any of our nurses who can provide further resources, or if things are severe, a referral.