10 Parenting Strategies To Reduce Your Kids' StressMaking time to connect one on one is crucial. S&B Vonlanthen/Unsplash, CC BYAmanda 

Parents are dealing with huge demands on their time and energy. Children may not be attending school or involved in regular activities. As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on families, routines have collapsed, patience is wearing thin and self-care is a distant memory.

Decades of research have taught us that adversity during childhood has damaging effects on health and development. Many studies have shown that kids who have faced abuse, neglect and family conflict struggle forming friendships, have academic difficulties and face physical and mental health problems in adolescence and adulthood.

Fortunately, developmental scientists have identified ways to help children survive and thrive during times of adversity. The beneficial effects of protective and nurturing experiences are powerful antidotes to stress and adversity and prepare children to cope with hard times for years to come.

Families worried about possible long-term effects of pandemic-related disruption can learn from these proven strategies. Here are 10 ways parents can foster children’s resilience during challenging times.

innerself subscribe graphic

1. Connect with one another

Make time to talk, listen and play without distractions. Be sure children know they are loved unconditionally. This can include taking breaks to check in during the day when learning and working at home, having a special bedtime routine that includes talking about the day, taking walks together, or playing favorite games. Making the effort to connect helps children know they’re valued and creates a sense of security.

2. Support children’s friendships

Think about ways for children to play together outdoors, talk via technology or play a video game virtually with friends. Some families are creating safe zones or bubbles, where they allow children to pick a close friend or two whose family is practicing recommended coronavirus precautions that they can interact with more closely. Maintaining friendships gives children opportunities to learn from peers and reduces stress, providing support and acceptance.

3. Find ways children can help others

Talk about how others are also struggling. Encourage them to donate toys they’ve outgrown, save money for a special cause or help a neighbor with errands like shopping, bringing in mail, doing yardwork or dog-walking. When you do things for others in the community, include your children and talk about why you do it. This helps children learn about the needs of others and cultivates empathy.

4. Help children stay involved in clubs or groups

Some groups that work well during a pandemic include outdoor Scouting, Zoom clubs and other special-interest clubs such as outdoor sports, fishing, hiking or biking. Being part of a group helps children feel a sense of belonging and promotes identity development. It can also help build morals and values and even promote academic success.

5. Stay in touch with important adults

Children benefit from relationships with other grown-ups, like grandparents and teachers. They can be another source of support and someone to talk to about problems or successes. They’re particularly important when parents are unavailable due to work or other obligations. Help kids stay connected through Zoom, email, phone calls, FaceTime and special activities like outdoor events. Some social media groups have targeted programs to link children with others to play games or chat.

6. Keep up with hobbies

Boredom is a parent’s worst enemy. Having an enjoyable hobby is rewarding for kids; it provides engaging leisure time and opportunities to master something. Such activities provide connections with others, can teach discipline and how to manage one’s emotions and behavior, and promote self-esteem. Explore art, music, science projects, writing, chess and other hobbies that develop physical, artistic and intellectual skills while providing hours of enjoyment.

10 Parenting Strategies To Reduce Your Kids' StressExercising together has physical and mental benefits. gilaxia/E+ via Getty Images

7. Be physically active

Make exercise a part of family routines. Take walks or ride bikes, play active video games like Wii, go to the park, stretch or do yoga together. Exercise has many of the same benefits as hobbies. It also helps children handle the physical effects of stress on the body and improves mood and mental health.

8. Create routines

Routines are a powerful nonverbal signal to children’s brains that they are safe and that life is predictable. Keeping a routine can reduce the number of conflicts, and children know what to do and expect during different points of the day.

Create and display (together, ideally) daily or weekly calendars with words or pictures that remind children when learning, playing, resting, sleeping and eating activities occur. Invent little rituals that comfort as well as accomplish goals, especially at bedtime: read, tell stories, sing a special song, say a prayer or list loved ones. Such activities ensure better sleep than allowing children to drift off watching a video. Children may push back if they’ve gotten used to less structure during the day, but most will welcome knowing what to expect.

9. Keep realistic expectations for learning

Children’s involvement in schooling varies widely during the pandemic, with some hardly affected and others learning entirely at home. Virtual schooling requires parents to be more involved than before – monitoring assignments, checking in during the day and seeking help when children are struggling.

10 Parenting Strategies To Reduce Your Kids' StressLearning doesn’t have to happen in a scholastic setting – for instance, baking relies on math. Michael Heffernan/Stone via Getty Images

While schoolwork is indeed important, not all learning takes place in class. Involve children in opportunities to learn during everyday tasks such as cooking (measuring, timing), gardening, shopping (figuring sales prices, adding), and games (cards, dominoes, board games) that build memory and thinking skills. Read with your child every day. Depending on the level of the book, you can read to your child or take turns reading pages.

10. Maintain a healthy and safe home

In addition to maintaining COVID-19 precautions, make nutritious meals, declutter and organize toys, games, hobby supplies and learning materials. Find ways to involve children in preparing meals, organizing their work and play spaces, cleaning up after activities, and sharing in conversations about family rules. Chaos and clutter are the enemies of calm. Creating safe and orderly spaces helps children manage stress. Eating healthy foods together benefits physical and mental health.

Parenting in the time of coronavirus

Many parents naturally do the things listed above. However, with increased stress and demands on time, these activities are difficult to maintain. Now is a good time to pick a few of these strategies and get back on track.

Every family is different, and what’s appropriate differs by children’s ages, whether infants and toddlers, school-age children or teens and young adults. But adjusted for age and circumstances, these tried-and-true techniques can help youngsters make it through tough times and come out the other side OK.The Conversation

About The Authors

Amanda Sheffield Morris, Professor of Human Development and Family Science, Oklahoma State University and Jennifer Hays-Grudo, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Oklahoma State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Related Books:

Here are 5 non-fiction books on parenting that are currently Best Sellers on Amazon.com:

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind

by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

This book provides practical strategies for parents to help their children develop emotional intelligence, self-regulation, and resilience using insights from neuroscience.

Click for more info or to order

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind

by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

The authors of The Whole-Brain Child offer guidance for parents to discipline their children in a way that promotes emotional regulation, problem-solving, and empathy.

Click for more info or to order

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

This classic book provides practical communication techniques for parents to connect with their children and foster cooperation and respect.

Click for more info or to order

The Montessori Toddler: A Parent's Guide to Raising a Curious and Responsible Human Being

by Simone Davies

This guide offers insights and strategies for parents to implement Montessori principles at home and foster their toddler's natural curiosity, independence, and love of learning.

Click for more info or to order

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting

by Dr. Laura Markham

This book offers practical guidance for parents to shift their mindset and communication style to foster connection, empathy, and cooperation with their children.

Click for more info or to order