“Every child is different,” said Ms. Hurley. “Take a deep breath and say, ‘How is my child without a pandemic?'” Watch for changes in sleep; eat significantly less or more; new anxious behaviors such as constantly seeking reassurance or attachment; a significant loss of focus; and less interest in connecting with friends, even in preferential ways like social media or video games, she said. “Trust that if you feel like something is wrong with your gut, it’s probably a good idea to get help.”
Aside from monitoring health concerns, the impulse to help our children by doing more for them, sometimes more about us than our children, said Ned Johnson, co-author of The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense “to give your children more control over their lives. “
Research has shown that when parents step in to help children with a frustrating problem, that intervention can reduce the parent’s anxiety while keeping the child’s anxiety heightened, Mr Johnson said. This is because the anxious parent gains a sense of control when they take action instead of being helpless on the sidelines, but the child still feels ineffective and stressed.
It can be difficult for parents to get children to do more, and perhaps confused, when one parent can do a task faster and more effectively. But the pandemic has cut the stakes in some common family situations. For example, if children are doing distance learning and don’t have to get on the bus, they can take responsibility for waking themselves up. If the child overslept, the parents no longer play chauffeur. Only the child will experience the natural consequences of being late, Mr Johnson said, which makes it easier for parents to let go of control.
Also, when everyone spends more time at home, families can more easily share tasks even if they aren’t perfectly done. A preschooler with a broom doesn’t necessarily need to clean the floor well, but the child does feel a sense of efficacy and helpfulness when encouraged to give it a try, said Mr Johnson, and “the coping experience increases. ”
If this all sounds like too much work in a pandemic, remember that parents who nurture their children’s strengths and self-efficacy are not only helping their children but themselves too. “The parents are really exhausted,” admitted Dr. Waters one, but a positive, proactive approach is “kind of a win-win situation”. It is good for your children, ”and seeing children flourish is“ good for us as parents, too, ”she said. And their research has found that using a strengths-building approach – finding areas where your children can be more responsible – also correlates with increasing parents’ self-efficacy, a feeling that “you as the parent are the right thing to do. ”
Courtney E. Ackerman, author of several positive psychology books, also advises parents not to wait until the current crisis is over in order to instill more self-efficacy in children. Yes, working on resilience development during these unpredictable times might feel like shoveling while the snow is still falling, she said, but that’s fine. “I think it always snows,” she said. “It’s a particularly difficult time with the pandemic, but life is full of ups and downs.”