Tips For Parenting During Lockdown

Tips For Parenting During Covid 19

In South Africa we are currently in a period of lock down, which leads to a great deal of uncertainty. For the adult this includes not only uncertainty regarding our physical health, emotional well being, and financial concerns, but our children are also facing their own uncertainties in terms of academic stress and anxieties regarding the fragility of life. For many of us, this is a time of being forced to slow down, and more time spent within the walls of our homes. Many of us may spend it re-adusting our business plans to suit the changing world we are living in, others are working remotely, some are spring cleaning or binge watching series.

We cannot change the fact that our movement and work is restricted, yet we can change how we use this time. Being forced to slow down and redetermine our priorities is one of the blessings in disguise for many during this tough time. One of  the ways we can positively shift our focus and use this time, is to engage with our children in ways that we never have time to do in our normal lives. We live in a fast paced world, where we are all engrossed by the need to keep up with the rest. For many parents, who are raising their children single handedly, juggling more than one job, and simply trying to make ends meet, time is something that is not on their side.

As an educational psychologist, I daily see the benefits and advantages of a parent that has taken out time to spend with their child. This does not necessarily need to be a costly experience, nor does it need to consume the whole day. A simple half an hour of playing your child’s favourite board game can have the biggest impact. Your child will appreciate that you have taken time out of your busy day, and engaged with them in something they enjoy. You have met with them at their level. No matter how brief, this form of genuine interaction has lasting effects. The attachment and bonding that is developed during times such as these goes a long way when it comes to discipline, moral development, whether your child chooses to come to you to tell you something that has happened, or whether they ask someone outside of the family for advice. By doing so, you are creating a trusting, caring relationship, where you are encouraging an open relationship of communication and trust.

A child that feels loved and valued is one that enters the classroom, playground, social situations, and so much more, with more confidence. The choices they make on a daily basis regarding the friends they choose, whether or not to do the “right thing”, the words and actions they make use of, all reflect their feelings of self-worth and how much value they attribute to themselves. A child who spends quality time with their parents is one that feels more secure, and is less likely to search for love and acceptance in unhealthy or unacceptable ways. The benefits of quality time spent with your child are too numerous to count.

In our stressed, busy and chaotic lives we struggle with finding enough time to simply get through the necessities of the day, never mind make time to play a child’s game. I find that many parents report that they cannot make the time. My recommendation to these hardworking parents is to make the most of the mundane day-to-day-tasks that have to be completed. Use the time washing dishes to chat to your child about their day. What did they enjoy, what was their high and low light of the day? Make time to all sit around the table in the evening when eating dinner and use that time to each share about your day. Make the most of the time spent driving in the car to and from school, or various appointments to chat to your child, and find out more about what is happening in their lives. By doing this, you will be sending your child the message that you are interested and care about them and what happens in their day. Try and set a weekly family time, even if it is one hour on a Saturday evening or Sunday morning. A time when you play a family game, go for a walk to the park, or engage in some other activity where the family is actively enjoying each other’s presence, and not distracted by a screen.

I am very aware of how difficult this challenge is. It involves making sacrifices and prioritising your to-do-list in a different way. But the value of you doing this is immeasurable. The benefits of which you will continue to see throughout your child’s journey to adulthood. My challenge to all you incredible, hardworking parents is to make the most of these days in lock down. Turn this negative into a positive. Use this time to  meet your child on their level and watch your relationship grow!