Parenting in a Pandemic | Health
As parents, we all want the best for our children, but meeting our children’s needs – physically, emotionally, educationally – isn’t always easy. When life is chaotic and stressors are high, the challenges of parenting are often heightened.
Here are some tips for healthy parenting that will benefit you and your kids, even when you’re faced with demanding schedules and competing priorities in life. As part of Bayhealth’s commitment to families in our community, this story is part of a series. This is the first of three stories we are sharing about parenting during the pandemic.
Choose a parental theme according to your values
Start with a general theme for your parenting style, based on your values. This theme should then be reflected in all interactions with your children.
What’s important to you can be a great place to start with a theme. Think about how you would like to be treated. Practice the golden rule. Practice kindness. Let it be your legacy with then. A couple can choose a theme together or can meet in the middle with two themes that complement each other, such as respect and love.
Focus on quality over quantity
When it comes to raising children, the quality of your interactions is what matters most. Children are not bought easily by expensive vacations or fancy toys. Think about your best childhood memories – often they don’t come at a high price.
Take advantage of everyday moments, because they will be the ones that your children will keep as memories. Learning to relax with your children is essential.
Children build positive memories when they and the parent can relax and have fun, even while doing mundane daily activities. Maybe it means cooking dinner together while lip-syncing to a favorite song, or something spontaneous like splashing in mud puddles after a rain. These moments of relaxation are also those where children share and communicate the most.
Find activities to do together
Parents should look for activities that they and their children can do together on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Simple things like being outdoors, taking nature walks or scavenger hunts can meet a family’s health, educational and emotional needs.
I also offer family game evenings with board games or guessing games that you can play in the car. Games teach so many skills and we can relax at the same time, if we don’t take winning too seriously. Sports or the arts are another great way to bond with your children.
Establish family traditions
Having rituals that can be easily incorporated into a daily or weekly routine can help keep everyone’s feet on the ground. You don’t have to feel like you have to do this every day, but try at least once a week.
One of my favorites is having a traditional way to end the day. Our family does something before bed that we call “Reflections,” where we sit around the table and light a candle. Sometimes we all hold hands and have a moment of silence, or one of us prepares a question – something silly or deep, like “If you could be an animal, what would you be and why?” or “If you could change anything in the world, what would it be?” Then we usually end with something we’re thankful for.
Traditions like this can be effective in calming and grounding everyone, especially during stressful weeks. Every family needs to do what works for them. It may just be to tuck your child in and tell them what you are grateful for.
These tips can help you get into a parenting rhythm that generates positivity for the whole family.
Families are such beautiful systems, each one is unique and original. You don’t have to be like everyone else. Being yourself teaches your children to do the same.
Su Chafin, NCC, LPCMH, advises patients of all ages at the Dover practice of Bayhealth Family Medicine, located at 1074 South State Street. She and her fellow providers who provide family medicine and OB-GYN care all accept new patients. To make an appointment, call (302) 725-3200 or visit Bayhealth.org/Family-Medicine-Dover to learn more.