Parenting strategies are a dime a dozen. Whether you absorbed all the literature you could during pregnancy, or prefer to watch and learn from other parents, everyone wants to do the best job they possibly can.
However, the pandemic has complicated all parental resilience strategies. How are you supposed to limit screen time, engage with your kids, and support them when you’re all crammed in the same house 24/7?
At first, the pandemic seemed like a testing ground for behavior management strategies for parents. After all, all of us could spend lots of quality time with our kids during a fourteen-day lockdown.
However, lockdowns in some form have persisted for over a year. This is no short-term sprint. Instead, it’s a marathon.
Don’t Guilt Trip Yourself
It’s easy to fall into this trap. After all, your kids have lost so much in the past year. Like many kids, they’ve been ripped away from the routine of school, friends, and healthy social life.
They might also be struggling with remote schooling, warring over the Internet and devices to accomplish assignments, and a lot of uncertainty about the future.
No matter how old your kids are, it’s difficult to say no or hold them to the same standard. After all, these are not normal times to be a child or a parent.
If you find yourself wondering what to do, the answer isn’t to mire yourself in guilt. A worldwide pandemic isn’t your fault, and it’s not something that you can control. Guilt will only make you—and those around you—more miserable.
Instead, realize that this is a prime learning ground for your children. As adults, they will need to know that it is no one else’s responsibility to make them happy. That is their responsibility.
As children, building the ability to entertain themselves is a priceless asset. And it’s also shown to boost self-reliance and creativity!
To empower your children, make sure they have the tools they need to successfully entertain themselves. This may include building, painting, and craft supplies.
It might mean outdoor time, books, or something that is reminiscent of your own screen-free childhood.
Embrace the Chaos
These days, everything might be out of your control. You don’t know when schools will reopen, when kids can see their friends again, or when everyone can gather at grandma’s house.
After all, most parenting strategies for teenagers focus on how to keep them out of wild parties and focused on their grades. They don’t cover what to do during a global pandemic!
To cope, try to let go of any rigid expectations you may have had for this year. Instead of counting the days till your current lockdown is over, and then being crushed when another one is instituted, embrace the current chaos.
One of the main definers of parental resilience strategies is flexibility. How do you go with the flow, and how do you adapt when you’re thrown one curveball after another?
Hopefully, your children will never need to parent through a global pandemic. But when they are placed into life situations where resiliency and flexibility are a top priority, they’ll know exactly what to do from watching you.
Don’t Make Yourself a Martyr
Depending on your role in the family economy, this could be very tempting. Maybe you’re a single parent or a stay-at-home parent. It can feel like you have no other choice than to do it all.
When it comes down to it, what other option is there? Don’t make a martyr out of yourself just yet! To start with, abandon the concept of perfection.
We just talked about embracing chaos, and part of that is lowering your expectations. You might not be able to work remotely, help your children learn remotely, and maintain a pristine house.
That’s okay! You, like your children, are surviving some form of the apocalypse. In ten years, whether you could eat off the floor during the pandemic won’t matter.
But this is also another opportunity to delegate your workload and teach a sense of responsibility and work ethic. What chores do your children currently take care of?
Of course, this depends on their age. Expecting your two-year-old to shoulder a significant amount of housework is ridiculous. But if you have teenagers, they can and should be responsible for some cooking, cleaning, and so forth.
Using chores to reframe privileges can also serve as positive discipline strategies for parents. Delaying privileges, such as screentime, until chores are complete teaches an important life lesson.
Sometimes, it’s important to delay gratification until responsibilities have been taken care of. Most children aren’t too young to learn that!
Maintaining structure and embracing chaos aren’t polar opposites! Instead, they’re sides of the same coin. One trick that makes chaos easier to bear is knowing what to expect in small things.
For instance, does your family have a habit of going for an evening walk? Even if the rest of the day has been totally unplanned and disastrous, that’s a small piece of structure that you can rely upon.
With the tiny pieces of routine that you’re able to create, make the most of them. Make it something that helps burn off energy or gets your kid outside, for instance.
Developing New Parenting Strategies
No matter how far along you are in your parenting strategies, they will probably change with each child. Techniques that worked for your oldest may accomplish nothing with your youngest.
Each child is unique. But each season that your family finds themselves in is also incredibly unique.
Being able to adapt to chaos and the aftermath of a global pandemic is incredibly challenging! No amount of parenting strategies or tips can change that.
What strategies can do, though, is make your job easier and help you give yourself credit where it’s due. If you’re looking for more tips, check out my new book here!